Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

An absolute cracker.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Black RAT Productions , Depot Studio, Arts Wing, Swansea Grand Theatre , July-08-09
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Black RAT Productions Shakespeare's classic culture-clash comedy, chronicling the chaos that ensues when fairies and humans cross paths, is one of those stories - like Under Milk Wood and The Hound
of the Baskervilles - that has been performed time and time again, to the extent where one wonders how it can be done in a totally fresh way.

Having seen the Dream more times than I can remember, I am happy to report that this version - directed by Richard Tunley for Black RAT Productions - is as good as it gets.

This is very much a contemporary interpretation of the tale, and has a strong visual aspect - the mortals, for the most part, are clad in check shirts/blouses/jackets while the fairies share
a common floral motif - and there are sequences in which the actors double as puppeteers.

Physicality, too, is an important feature of this one, with the performers leaping and tumbling like contemporary dancers. In such an intimate space, the effect is positively electric.

The performances from the 13-strong cast are uniformly strong: Lisa Zahra and Simon Riordan fare splendidly as Titania and Oberon, while Russell Clough's mercurial and athletic Puck -
clad here in a hoodie - is a delight.

Sam Davies' full-bloodedly comic portrayal of Bottom hits all the right notes, and he exploits his expressive face to the full. The travelling players - popularly known as the Rude Mechanicals -
are cleverly interpreted, with standout performances from Chris Morgan(Quince), Calum Small(Flute)and Alan Humphreys(Snug).

Lewis Cook and Chris Jenkins are well cast as Lysander and Demetrius(in a nice visual touch, the two are dressed almost identically), Amy Coombes(Hermia), Christina Richards(Helena),
George Atkins(Starvling)and Ian Phillips(Snout)all excel in their roles.

The "play within a play" towards the end of the production is nicely handled, incorporating old TV themes - we even get to hear Roger Webb's soaring title theme from the 1968 series
Strange Report(for the record, it's the Geoff Love version - aren't I a sad old anorak?).

A superb interpretation of a familiar story, this is an absolute cracker.

Black RAT's next production - John Godber's Bouncers, starring Mike Doyle - will be touring throughout Wales in November.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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