I enjoy retellings of classic works and was not disappointed with the Blue Elephant Theatre’s Christmas show, the enchanting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps seen as one of Shakespeare’s most gentle of plays and this production brings plenty of originality, but with a 1940s flavour to the script.
As soon as you walk into the theatre to take a seat, the actors are already at work. A group of actors are laughing and chatting away (after a dinner feast) at a long table which stretches out across the stage. The women are dressed in beautiful tea dresses and the men are dressed smartly in formal attire, all achieving the elegant 1940s look.
Once the audience settles, the play begins.
The story is one of love, and mischief as it follows four lovers, Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius. Hermia is in love with Lysander, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius; Demetrius is in love with Hermia but she loves Lysander. The plot thickens as enter naughty fairy Puck who, with the help of a love potion, makes Demetrius fall in love with Helena. The tangled love story is an important part within the play.
Playing Shakespeare’s diverse and often complicated characters can be daunting. But all of the actors memorised the classical text beautifully and it was quite easy to follow and understand the Shakespearean language. All the actors embodied their characters well, but the star of the show (for me) had to be James Taylor Thomas. He delivered a solid performance as Bottom the weaver; all his scenes were a delight to watch. Thomas was full of humour and confidence, which indeed helped to give the play its humorous touch.
The set was minimal, with only a few chairs, duvets and torches used as props. The lighting was used to good effect, helping secure scenes and characters into place. But it was the snow machine that adds the magical Christmas effect to the show – the snow looks and behaves like the real thing!
I really enjoyed this unique adaption; there is a good portion of love, magic and movement and music with this production. The snow machine and humour add a magical winter feel for audience members. Like all Shakespeare plays, it takes a bit of getting used to the language, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable winter show.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at the Blue Elephant Theatre until 15th December 2012. You can book tickets online at www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/midsummer-nights-dream.