OK , so I think it’s important that I start this review with honesty. My foray into the world of Shakespeare is somewhat limited.
That being said, my like may have been sprinkled with a touch of his work throughout the years with a touch of ‘Macbeth’ being read during my school years coupled with the telling and re-tellings of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, I have however never seen his work in the theatre.
Coming to the show after a long day at work seemed like a mental challenge to begin with. The chores of the working day soon began to be lifted with my observation of 30 to 40 school children bursting with excitement to see the show. Before the curtain was raised it was great to see the nation’s most famous playwrite still capturing the attention across the generations.
This version of Shakespeare’s comedy seemed to be set with the 1940’s era, portrayed through the costume design but never really alluded to directly or indirectly. This seemed somewhat an odd choice of period somewhat opposing the magical fairy land in which some of our characters are based. This confusion seemed to continue with the choice of stage setting being silhouettes of dilapidated buildings rather than a mystical forest. Strange design concepts aside it’s the companies actors we are here to see, so how did they fare?
Our cast ranged from the outstandingly brilliant, most notably, Lucy Ellinson (Robin Goodfellow) to the somewhat bland Chu Omamabal (Oberon) who did not shine as brightly as his sparkling white suit. Stand out performance most certainly goes to Beck Morris (Bottom) who enraptured the audience with every word she spoke and played her role with great vigour, perfect comedic timing and the charm which reminded me of the cast of the ‘Carry On’ films from yesteryear.
A lovely touch to the show is the inclusion of local theatre groups being invited to support the touring cast as fairies. Whilst some of the children seemed somewhat full of stage fright, there presence helped carry a whimsical tone to the scenes and a feeling of innocence which added to the overall charm. The production aims to be a ‘play for the nation’ and indeed I am sure many proud parents from all over our isles will sit proudly whilst they watch their rising stars.
Upon reflection, not know the story before seeing the show was a blessing and a curse as whilst it allowed me to enjoy the surprises I was not expecting it also meant I felt the choices made within the direction and production of this show took me outside of the simple comedic story by causing distraction and confusion.
Whilst the show was enjoyable and provided my with a few laughs it was definitely not the experience I expected when I told others I was going to see Shakespeare. That being said my first step into his world has been one of mixed results, whilst I know I enjoy the writers work itself (who knew he could be so funny, with the humour still being relevant in today’s society?) I will also be conscious that I need to consider the production when buying any further tickets
Set Design 4
Photo Credit : by Topher McGrillis (c) RSC