S4K's MAGICAL DREAM CAPTIVATES CROYDON
I don't know about the "4 Kidz" bit in the Shakespeare 4 Kidz company name... after sampling their jewel in the crown, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Croydon last month I’m pretty much of the mind that our young sector’s adult counterparts could all do with a trip to see this wonderful production in all its glory.
What a way to entertain and educate – I didn’t want it to stop. Without hesitation I think I can safely say The Bard himself would have given his blessing to see Julian Chenery and Matt Gimblett’s updated and musical version of his most performed and adored comedy.
Every aspect of S4K’s musical Dream was delivered with vigour, pace and energy by a company that were obviously enjoying the performance as much as their audience. The cast’s impeccable timing and comedic delivery kept the Ashcroft theatre’s young and amazed spectators on the edge of their seats throughout – how many children (or adults, for that matter) do you know that can sit through two and a half hours of Shakespeare and still go out excitedly skipping and chatting after the curtain has fallen?
Under Gimblett and Joseph Fowler’s skilful and inspired direction the fifteen-strong cast owned their audience, and they knew it. Never before have I had the good fortune to experience a production of The Dream where all three of the play’s characters groups enjoy equally strong appeal to the audience: the ‘Fairies’, the ‘Lovers’ and the hilarious ‘Mechanicals’.
Noel Andrew Harron’s ‘Puck’ was rightly the people’s favourite enjoying hugely successful interaction with his audience as well as forming a lovely double-act with Richard Munday’s highly original hot stud version of ‘Oberon’. For Harron to get away with giving the audience an hilarious ‘X Factor’ sign without ham or pantomime then you know how far on top of his game this highly accomplished performer was.
Originality was a keyword to the whole production which cleverly saw the usually cool and handsome ‘Lysander’ (Luke Glover) swap his stereotypical looks and demeanour with those of ‘Demetrius’ (Harry Smith); a move which worked to great effect. Titania’s four gay male tutu-wearing Fairies were also a very funny and well-thought-out touch.
Not to be out done were the Mechanicals. What can I say, except rehearsed to perfection – and perfect! There were no minor parts here; all six were a joy to watch and, again, in total control of their adoring audience. Sean Luckham’s gorgeous portrayal as Nick Bottom was masterful and the Ashcroft’s viewing youngsters screamed with delight as he rampaged through the auditorium as part of his horrendously (and triumphantly) elongated death throes of the tragic ‘Pyramus’.
The addition of around a dozen short musical numbers worked very well and also served to further explain vital areas of the plot to the younger members of the public. As did the modernised script; keeping true to Shakespeare’s verse whenever possible but enabling a 21st Century audience to fall in love with the four-hundred-year-old story with ease.
I cannot recommend this production enough, which is convenient as S4K is touring A Midsummer Night’s Dream throughout early 2011 including Bromley’s Churchill Theatre on 11th March when Sardines will be looking forward to a second helping. For further details including S4K’s other offerings visit www.shakespeare4kidz.com.