Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Lizzie Donnelly 21 June 2009

ATS’ A Midsummer Nights Dream, Queens’ College.

BATS’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed in the picturesque setting of Queens’ idyllic 16th century Cloister Court, is a master class in open-air theatre.

Directors Bea Walker and Stephanie Bain have created a production that captures the essence of May week. With minimal set and void of pretension, the sterling cast of Cambridge acting talent cannot fail to entertain.
The fairies’ domain was boundless as they flitted along the walkways and seated themselves among the audience instilling the sense that we had trespassed into a magical realm of hedonism and unadulterated bliss.

The Mechanicals were an absolute joy to watch. Each one effortlessly funny, from the adorably earnest Chris Nelson as Robin Starveling the tailor, to Rob Frimston’s impeccable comic timing as Peter Quince, who set the audience laughing with the raise of an eyebrow.

Special mention must go to Josh Higgott who gave a superlative Bottom. At times reminiscent of a young David Jason, he was entertaining from start to finish and deservedly indulgent as Pyramus in the play within the play. This was counterbalanced by Joey Batey’s screamingly funny Thisbe and heightened by Tom William’s Demetrius, who gave a running commentary on the Mechanicals’ theatrical exploits as lover turned smug wiseacre.
Complementing the comedy, Mel Heslop’s Hermia demonstrated a beautifully romantic innocence and conviction, while Katherine Jack was thoroughly engaging as unrequited lover, Helena.

It was, indeed, Pablo Navarro Machlochlain as Puck who rightfully maintained the pace, working the audience with nonchalant charm and comic showmanship, so much so that his innovative entrances and exits became a comic highlight of the show.

Even if the energy dipped in the Athenian court scenes and the chemistry between the lovers was not always apparent, overall it was a remarkable performance given the nature of may week shows with their short rehearsal periods and runs slotted around all night drinking sessions. The audience supping on Alkaselza could not avoid being impressed.

A perfect way to spend a May Week afternoon.

Lizzie Donnelly