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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

One of Shakespeare’s most captivating comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sees the return of Eleanor Rhode who was last at the RSC in 2019 directing King John.

And what she and her creative team have created is, in my opinion, one of the best productions to come out of Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

They have managed to adapt and improve on what is one the most performed of the Bard’s plays, finding new relevance and energy.

Photos by Pamela Raith.

Four young lovers, faced with the prospect of unhappy marriage or worse, flee the court of Athens and stumble into an enchanted forest. Nearby, a group of amateur actors rehearse a play to celebrate an upcoming royal wedding.

As these mere mortals cross paths with a warring fairy King and Queen, chaos reigns in the natural world. The lines between reality and illusion start to blur and no-one but mischievous Puck knows what is true and what is magic.

Much has been made of Bottom being played by Mathew Baynton, loved for his roles in Ghosts and Horrible Histories and, indeed, his performance does this iconic Shakespeare character more than justice. He prances around the stage in his underpants and transforms into a donkey, becoming the object of infatuation for the Queen of the Fairies, with comedic aplomb. But I’m delighted to report that the rest of the cast more than deiver

Joining the previously announced Mathew Baynton as Bottom are Nicholas Armfield as Demetrius, Emily Cundick as Snout, Bally Gill as Oberon/Theseus, Esme Hough as Cobweb, Ryan Hutton as Lysander, Charlotte Jaconelli as Peaseblossom, Laurie Jamieson as Snug, Neil McCaul as Egeus, Helen Monks as Peter Quince, Michael Olatunji as Moth, Adrian Richards as Philostrate, Boadicea Ricketts as Helena, Sirine Saba as Titania/Hippolyta, Rosie Sheehy as Puck, Dawn Sievewright as Hermia, Mitesh Soni as Flute, Premi Tamang as Starveling and Tom Xander as Mustardseed.

The special effects, from Matt Daw’s lighting through to John Bulleid’s illusions, create a sense of magic and mystery that draw us in from the opening scene. The stunning visuals and technical trickery play no small part on the show’s undenial  success.

Stand our scene for me is the play within a play, the most satirical interpretation of Romeo and Juliet that has us hooked. The audience were hysterical.

A midsummer’s Night’s Dream plays until 30th and  Visit here