A Midsummer Night’s Dream 16.7.18

Shakespeare always seemed to know exactly what his audiences wanted. I reckon the London Theatre in New Cross does too, judging by its exceptional take on the Bard’s magical comedy A Midsummer Nights’s Dream. Director Harry Denford and his 15-strong all-woman cast – 16 if you include Abba the dog – threw themselves into the madcap love story with impish glee and gave it a raucous enchantment that is so often lacking in contemporary versions. They did what’s so difficult to do with an uproariously silly plot – took it very seriously. And that, of course, made it funnier still. The sequence in which the so-called rude mechanicals ham it up in the play within a play was a masterclass in how to portray a bad actor. I make no apologies for not singling out anyone for special praise because this production was blessed with a uniformly terrific cast – Charlotte Green as Oberon, Elizabeth Huxley as Titania, Robyn Holdaway as Puck, Lauren Edwards as Bottom, Merriel Plummer as Demetrius (with the best comb-over I’ve seen in years), Hayley Grainger as Helena, Roisin Moore as Lysander, Rachael Sparkes as Hermia, Leslie Hayes as Quince, Jemma Epstein as Snug and a fabulously daft lion, Chloe Keenan as Flute, Isabella McGough as Snout, Brittany Lewis as Starveling, Georgia Forde as Cobweb and Nadine Turk as Mustardseed. It was a huge cast for such a tiny venue but the production never felt anything but intimate. It was an object lesson in how to bring Shakespeare alive – and how to entrance an audience.

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