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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at Regent’s Park Theatre

11 July, 2019 — By Paul Cowling

Amber James and Susan Wokoma in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo: Jane Hobson

DOMINIC Hill’s modern and easy-to-follow take on this Athenian Shakespeare staple, is held together by a few strong performances and a sinister quality.

Designer Rachel Canning (ingenious creator of the Tinkerbell lamp in Peter Pan) portrays the hobbling elves in the woods as creatures from a Tim Burton-style nightmare, with vine-woven crutches and scissorhands calipers.

Amber James is alluring as their keeper, the Fairy Queen, Titania.

After the sight and sound of Myra McFadyen’s Puck (Think Jimmy Krankie, but more irritating and disturbing), it is a relief to see Gareth Snook as a Rob Brydon-style Welsh Quince, clamber over a cloth moon with his map, flask and Tupperware.

Snook brightens up these dark woods, as he and his fellow amateur thespians stumble upon the perfect place to perform Pyramus and Thisbe for Duke Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding.

Guffaws abound thanks mainly to Quince’s frustration with Bottom. And, what a splendid Bottom we have here. Susan Wokoma plays the hopeless, know-it-all actor with comedic, bossy conviction.

Another great performance comes from Remy Beasley, who once played the Lambrini-swilling Beyonce Evans in that delightful comedy Stella, and is excellent as the love-scorned Helena.

Weak links are Michael Elcock and Gabrielle Brooks as the eloping loved-up Lysander and Hermia, while the beatbox microphone intros of Act One should have had the plug pulled on them before they were let loose on stage.

Until July 27
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