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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Richmond Shakespeare Society

Fountain Gardens - 21 July 2018

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

When I received the tickets, I was looking forward to watching the interpretation of the show. Having studied the text at school, I didn’t anticipate how differently Richmond Shakespeare Society would interpret the play. I was excited at the prospect of the production being performed outside, as I imagined that the technical arrangement would make use of the beautiful gardens, such as the fairies appearing from behind the trees.

As I arrived a little early, I had time to look at the set and envisage how the show would be performed. I initially thought the set might be a little too basic, and although simplicity can be effective, I believe it would have benefitted from some additional scenery; perhaps the set could have been moved closer to the trees, alongside a lighting addition of a green wash, to make the forest scenes more realistic. However, the weather was perfect with clear skies and the sun shining, which made it all the more enjoyable to have a picnic with my sister.

I found the start of the show a little disjointed, however as I started to adjust to the characterisation and language style, I found it easier to immerse myself in the plot. The show was a very modern interpretation of the play in all aspects. In some ways this added to the success of the performance; however in others I felt that it took away from Shakespeare’s original text. This version appeared to be catered to a much younger audience in its exaggerated and melodramatic form.

With regards to the costumes, although the royalty wore fairly traditional attire, the bright colours, flared skirts and large wings donned by the fairies added a new dimension to the piece, suggestive of their mischievous nature. Their stage makeup was very bold and glittery, adding to the ethereal setting created in the fairy scenes.

I was especially drawn to the characters of Demetrius and Bottom the Weaver. Demetrius held his own throughout the performance, with levels of high emotion alongside light-hearted banter. Bottom’s comedy genius acted as a contrast against Oberon’s plotting revenge. As this was a modernized adaptation of the play, it may have been easier for younger members of the audience to understand the plot if some of the long monologues were broken down further.

Despite there being some technical errors and an actor losing his voice, the cast pulled off the show with aplomb, resulting in the audience cheering and clapping to the music during the final dance number. Overall I enjoyed watching “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and I look forward to watching more of Richmond Shakespeare Society’s productions in the near future.

Siaraa Syed - Arts Richmond Poet Laureate

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