reviewed at the Gothic House, Pulham Market on 23 June
It’s the Shakespeare play which most suits outdoor performance. Stuff of Dreams’ summer tour demonstrates this very well, abetted by the Tudor surroundings of this particular venue and the lack of artificial lighting which faded Puck’s envoi out of the human realm and back into that of his spirit world.
Hayley Evenett’s Puck is a lithe creature, black and dark-green banded and a prime stirrer of dangerous mischief. It’s an intelligent as well as a likable characterisation with just the right air of menace. The rest of the cast play two roles, with Tim Lane’s Bottom giving another stand-out performance.
Lane’s songs, with his own acoustic guitar accompaniment, have a genuinely folk-song quality; “Fairy friends” and “What a night, what a revel” are real foot-tapping numbers, following out of the situations at particular points and not merely superimposed on them. Cordelia Spence’s direction allows space for our imaginations to work and is never fortuitously busy.
As Hippolyta and Titania, Neve Doyle flows across the stage, trailing a Greek-inspired white trained gown as the Amazon queen and darkly tattered as th queen of the fairies. Leighton Williams is Theseus, rather more caught up in his own pleasures than the duties of administration, and a top-hated Oberon, partly gypsy, partly gamekeeper.
Demetrius, so determined in his preferences, is easily transformed into play-maestro Quince by Tom Moran and Alex Firth-Clark makes love-sick Lysander become Flute and Thisby very naturally. Their counterparts from Katie Cary are Hermia and so Snug/the Lion and from Kiara Hawker the determined Helena and the malleable Wall.
So many productions of Shakespeare nowadays seem to be delivered by actors who either cannot understand the verse and its language or fail to convey the rhythm and sense of what they are saying to the audience. This entire production is intelligently spoken and so flows naturally. As it should do.
Four and a half-star rating.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream can also be seen at Thornham Walks, Eye on 24 June, the Locks Inn, Geldeston on 29 June, East Point Academy, Lowestoft on 30 June and Bungay Castle on 1 July.