Wilton’s Music Hall, London – until 30 June 2018
The Faction’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is delightfully comical, making it an ideal way to spend a warm summer’s evening watching.
If anyone is looking to avoid the football mania at the moment, you could do a lot worse then paying a visit to Wilton’s Music Hall to watch this delightful contemporary production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which makes you laugh continuously throughout and leaves you beaming from ear to ear.
But more than this, The Faction have been able to make their own mark on Shakespeare’s comedy with their own sense of style, relying on Richard James Neale’s wonderfully choreographed movement to capture the spirit of the characters as well as the more mystical and supernatural elements to great effect. Two particular highlights include the way in which they carry out Bottom’s transformation and the fight that occurs between the two couples (delightfully comical and physical) before everything is resolved.
It would be fair to say, however, that at first, this is a production in which it is not immediately clear what the approach to the play is. Eleanor Field’s stripped back design offers no clues or a sense of the magic that is about to occur which although leaves a lot to the audience’s imagination can make it feel slightly too basic.
Due to the modern clothing and lack of set, it can be hard to connect to the characters, particularly in the early scenes and this, in turn, means that the production takes some time to settle down and let the audience enjoy themselves.
This is counteracted by the playfulness and joy that comes through in Mark Leipacher’s nicely paced production that draws out some lovely comical performances from the cast, particularly highlighted in the scene in which Bottom and company perform Pyramus and Thisbe to hilarious, over the top effect.
In terms of performances, Laura Evelyn as Helena leads the way as her variety of expressions due to her confusion over why Lysander and Demetrius decide to fight for her affections is captured to great effect, while showcasing a wonderful sense of comic timing throughout. Meanwhile, in complete contrast to this performance Tamarin McGinley as Titania is strong and charismatic capturing her stubbornness as well as her transformation into a love-sick fairy well. Christopher York as Demetrius also delights as he chases around after Hermia, while always getting himself into physical scrapes – it is a sweet and instantly likeable performance. But it Christopher Hughes who offers up the biggest laughs as the pompous Bottom – exaggerated to the point where the character could be seen as annoying but it is a controlled performance to ensure Bottom doesn’t leave the other characters out in the cold.
This production is suitably lively and enjoyable to watch thanks to the sheer joy and enthusiasm shown by all of the cast, as well as the imagination and creativity of The Faction’s production. All in all, it would be fair to say that you will be hard pressed to find another production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that is so good natured, comical or imaginative.