A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Southwark Playhouse, 1 June

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Glass Half Full Productions & Go People Theatre present a production that is a perfect introduction to the Bard and to theatre in general.

When I told people I was going to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with seven actors there was genuine horror. This is clearly abridged in all senses, the Indian boy is cut out for example but it is so much fun. It is made clear by the actors that purists won’t be happy but nobody is coming to this production, especially when there are so many around and on TV, including a Cbeebies version and an adaptation by Russell T Davies

This version, directed by Simon Evans, who directed Bug at Found 111, is really good fun. It starts with the cast stating that this will not be your standard production. Actors play multiple parts and it could feel pretentious but it is done with such charm that you forgive the indulgences as they perform as themselves.

The most famous names are Freddie Fox, who goes to great lengths to explain his metamorphism into an ass when playing Bottom but is also perfectly cast as Demetrius. The other name is Maddy Hill, more famous for playing Nancy Carter in EastEnders she proves that she is incredibly capable in the varied roles of Titania and Quince and this is a great return before she appears as Imogen at the Globe.

They are more than well supported by the five others; Freddie Hutchins as Lysander and Flute, his comic timing with Fox in Act 5 is really fun and I enjoyed Ludovic Hughes as Oberon and Theseus. He brought a real gravitas and stability to a production that could have been completely messy. Melanie Fullbrook as Puck was delightful, she interacted well with the audience and didn’t make it feel like a terrifying stand up gig and I felt the diverse performances of Lucy Eaton and Suzie Preece really made what could have been a confusing version.

Ultimately I think this should be shown to those who find Shakespeare boring or are hesitant to commit to hours and hours of his work. It is a perfect introduction and has made me want to watch all those full versions that are out there.

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