A sparse set made up of a split level stage and a large paper suspended lamp are what greets us as we take our seats for this performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This sparse staging plays well with the venue itself, as the light dims, the shadows cast on the rough walls become more dreamlike. The lamp turns from sun to moon and back as the play goes on, and this clever use of light guides us through the progress of what can be a confusing production of a confusing play.
It is not uncommon for players to play more than one character when putting on ‘The Dream’. It works for squeezed theatre budgets, but also helps show the fact that the fairie world is but a shadow of our own. But to do it well, it needs to be clear when the actors transition from character to character. This was sometimes done with acrobatics, but that didn’t seem to be applied consistently. For me, who has seen countless productions of ‘Dream’, that was fine. For my neighbour encountering Shakespeare for the first time, he was left stumped and frustrated.
That’s a shame because there was a lot elsewhere to admire in the performances. I was particularly impressed by Laura Evelyn who gave a more comical and spirited performance as Helena (as well as /Moth/Snug) than is often afforded that character and worked really well. I also enjoyed Tamarin McGinley’s sensuous portrayal of Titania. The 70s glam look given her contrasted somewhat oddly with the others, but worked to feed into her performance as the queen of Studio 54.
‘Dream’ has elements of romance and of comedy, and each production makes a choice which they highlight. This leaned into the comedic element far more strongly than the romance. Christopher Hughes brought the house down as Bottom, and the mime elements worked the strongest when the rest of the cast were brought to bear as his Ass mask. The final act – dominated as it was by the play within the play was a scream, and left a sense of fun where the romances might have fallen somewhat flat on their own.
This was an enjoyable production for those who know the play. A light and frothy interpretation heavy on the laughs, less so on the love.
Tickets from £12.50. The production is on until 14 July https://www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/436-a-midsummer-night-s-dream-