Broken Arrow Productions create an enticing adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, accompanied by an earthly atmosphere and a hugely talented cast this production was an outright success.
This adaptation strips Shakespeare’s original down to the inherent magic vs. mortal theme and creates some very humorous moments as the audience watches four mortals being manipulated by the fairies that inhabit this ethereal world.
The Stage Door provided an intimate space for this production to take place and the lighting, music and musk of incense create an other-worldly setting for this story to unravel before the show has even begun. The opening movement sequence plunges the audience straight into a world of mystery and magic, and special credit is due here to Robyn Fryer (Titania) whose elegant power is asserted instantly and sustained throughout. Both Robyn Fryer’s Titania and Alexander Curtis’s Oberon exert control and power from the moment they set foot on the stage and their relationship is a struggle of dominance and attraction and yet manages to remain honest and not go over the top.
The Fairies Peaseblossom (Emily Bradshaw), Mustardseed (Mike Cottrell), and Cobweb (Peter Ward) accompany these two power-hungry characters as the agents of action. Their movements and facial expressions, even when the action isn’t at all focused on them, emphasises the earthly atmosphere and truly evoke their theatrical talents, especially when contrasted with their other roles. Both Emily Bradshaw and Mike Cottrell double up as The Mechanicals (a theatre troupe), along with the greatly entertaining Bottom (Jed Marshall), again emphasising this contrast between the magical and the real. An interesting twist on the character of Puck played by Tara Gilmore created a different relationship with Oberon and a refreshing change to Shakespeare’s original.
The four mortals, Hermia and Lysander (Lucy Hughes and James Forster), Helena and Demetrius (Sarah Divall and Chris Walker) are an entertaining contrast to the mystery and cunning of the fairies. The modern Lysander, in his denim and dark shades, is an innovative and contemporary version and takes this old Grecian tale into an other-worldly setting. Sarah Divall’s performance as the unappreciated Helena, her attempts at forcing Demetrius’s love by jumping on his back and wrapping herself around his leg, and similarly her hitting him with a map when she believed him to be deceiving her were all eccentric and humorous to the audience. Similarly the shrill screaming between Lucy Hughes and Sarah Divall was a very nice change to the usually tedious Hermia and Helena and greatly contributed to a lack of a dull moment within the performance.
Broken Arrow managed to reduce this long-winded comedy to a mere ninety minutes without cutting out any vital information or plot developments, creating a concise and action packed performance. Very little humour has actually been added to this production, instead the cast relied on the comedy in Shakespeare’s words and for this they must be praised. The lines were delivered in such a way that even those who are unfamiliar with Shakespearian language could understand the joke, and it was very impressive that the cast managed to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream in such a new and modern way, without changing any of the original wording and therefore still remaining true to Shakespeare himself.
The show was a triumph and was a great performance for Broken Arrow Productions to end their year on.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being shown tonight (its final night) at The Stage Door – buy tickets here or on the door.