Community theatre at its very best , this enjoyable production of Shakespeare’s most-performed outdoor play is a splendid 60th anniversary production for a fine company.
Of course the set is simple – just a blue backdrop for Theseus’s palace and a couple of modern painted trees for the forest so we’re dependent on strong story telling, clear verse speaking and good acting – and that’s what we get in abundance. Director Dean Laccohee (who played Richard III last year) knows exactly how to get the best from every single cast member.
It’s a modern dress concept so we start with Richard Sockett as a larger-than-life urbane, happy, authoritative Trump-esque king, about to be married, striding confidently though the audience in a white suit. Sockett is effortlessly convincing during Pyramus and Thisbe too. The play loses some of its sense of shared dream if you don’t double Theseus/Oberon and Hypolita/Titania but I can see why, with an amateur company and a large pool of actors to cast you might choose not to. And Reuben Milne is splendid as anarchic, charismatic Oberon whose rapport with Louise West’s Puck is delightful especially when they share popcorn and argue in mime upstage behind the lovers’ quarrel.
West who uses a bike, is perky, insouciant and full of mischief and glee. It’s a lovely take on the role. Among other well balanced performances, Richard Brown as Quince is anxious, long-suffering and self-consciously theatrical. James Rowe finds lots of range in Bottom and Ashton Cull’s Snout gives us the funniest Wall in Pyramus and Thisbe that I have ever seen – it’s all in the pained look on his face and in his timing.
This was my second Dream in 24 hours. It is completely different from Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park but on its own terms works equally well. Congratulations, SATG. I look forward to Twelfth Night next year.