With Freddie Fox, known for his roles in Pride, The Three Musketeers and for his acting pedigree, and EastEnders’s Maddy Hill, the play begins with the troupe of actors playing (and even mocking) themselves. Realising there is an audience sitting on both sides of the stage, they jumble together their multiple roles and the Dream begins.
Evans astutely emphasises the art of performance, layering relationships upon relationships (a feud between Freddies, for instance) which permeate throughout, and occasionally those layers intentionally bleed for strong comedic effect. While clever, Evans’s production is also occasionally inconsistent. The layers are set but are not made discrete, and the tone swings randomly from being cheeky to being solemn. Eaton’s forlorn Helena is convincing but seems out of a place in this production.
Imagination is the real seed of this Athenian comedy; the actors make real a massive (and invisible) tree that cycles through the seasons at the centre of the stage. There is even a very helpful audience member who blossoms into the enchanted magical flower. The energy that fuels the first half however sadly peters out, and the lack of crisp movement makes for a jumbled mechanical finale that moves at too slow a speed. While it’s evident the troupe are determined, it’s unclear what they hope to say.
Nevertheless, the ensemble is strong and they create an endearing take on one of Shakespeare’s most endearing plays. Not for so-called purists and maybe not fully realised, this Dream is still one that enchants, that entertains, and ignites our imaginations.
|What||A Midsummer Night's Dream, Southwark Playhouse review|
77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD | MAP
|Nearest tube||Elephant & Castle (underground)|
31 May 16 – 01 Jul 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£12 - £20|
|Website||Click here to book via Southwark Playhouse|