A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays and SUSU here at the Annex Theatre on the Nuffield Campus have put together a very traditional version, give or take the odd 21st Century addition and modern dress approach.
A vast array of performers and directors would leave this review with really just a list of names. It would be somewhat unfair to highlight anybody’s specific performance as this is very much an ensemble piece, each playing their part well. Diction and character were all well served.
However, standing out just a little from the crowd, due to obvious stage presence, is Sam Pegg as Bottom, a gift of a part, and in his hands was pure joy, much approved of by the student attendees. Stance and understanding of the written page oozed, gaining much raucous laughter.
Also slightly in front were Sydney Butler as Helena and Annabel Hughes as Hermia; tricky roles these in expressive emotion territory, which was well served by these two ladies. Their own scene in Act 2 was excellently done, running rings around Jamie Millar and Xander Searson as Lysander and Demetrius.
Sharon James brought vitality and impishness to her Puck, relishing her scenes with Hannah Swaddling as a strident Oberon. The scenes with Titania, a rounded performance by Imogen King, did more htan justice to the overall very well, confidently spoken text by all.
The ‘Pyrimis and Thisbe’ play within a play was well worth the wait, expertly thought through, although just a little too much Lambrini quaffing of the spectators distracted a little from the main feature, as did the constant buzz of the dry ice machine, which really wasn’t needed as the actors created the atmosphere themselves without it; minor niggles, though.
I love how the space at The Annex is constantly used. A very simple set this time, using just flowers and walls, was enough to set the scene, each part of the stage being utilised, allowing the language and the absurdity of the plot to shine through. Modern dress was used effectively through Lysander’s jeans, Titania’s beautiful green dress, to Theseus and Hypollyta’s evening wear.
Everyone both sides of the stage should be pleased with their efforts. Ethereal music and fairy lights embraced this dream production.