‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Review
Antonin Artaud Theatre
By Isobel Dawe
Walking into the theatre for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, I was met with the sight of the entire cast posed in a fog-filled room and it was immediately clear that Studio Brunel had once again pulled out all the stops. That being said, the overall performance was a little more traditional than Studio Brunel’s productions in the past and it suited it well. Nothing ‘clever’ was done with the language which was something I was glad for as I’ve seen many adaptations of Shakespeare do that badly, however it still had its new and original aspects.
Wil Pritchard’s music, which was on par with his usual style, quirky, mysterious, and slightly creepy, made an enigmatic atmosphere only added to by the lighting and effects. There was even one point where the band descended into chaos with screaming vocals and the bassist raging war on his instrument. If you didn’t see it in context, this might sound a little strange, but believe me, it worked, and the audience were fully immersed from beginning to end.
It was nice to see a mixture of new and old faces to Studio Brunel and as always, I was impressed at the professional standard of skill throughout. The quartet of confused lovers was particularly well played and had the audience in fits of laughter, and although Helena (Sarah Paul)’s diction wasn’t always the clearest, she otherwise played her part well and it just added to the general amusement.
One of the highlights was the end performance from the Mechanicals. The use of props and staging was good and Thomas Cope (Bottom) and Chloe Perrin (Flute)’s performances were particularly comical. However, throughout the rest of the show, the audience wasn’t distracted by flashy props as they were kept quite minimal, for example, Bottom’s donkey head was just a small mask and sticks were used as swords.
Puck, played by Eve Gabarre, was made more of a central character to the show than usual just by the amount of effort put into her stage time. Her costume and sound effects on her mic made it a little more magical and stimulating. This all worked very well, and her scenes were some of the best, particularly with the eerie music in the background and the shadowy lighting. Of course, one of the most interesting scenes was the end of act one when the cast performed a musical number, Puck singing in French. It was a great addition to the show and made it just that much more distinct.
The show was a great display of talent from the cast and crew and directors James J. Larbow and Ibtisam Boucheloukh. It perfectly captured the original humour of Shakespeare's text whilst adding a slightly more modern spin. It was a wonderfully enjoyable performance.