Directed by Benet Catty, this production of one of Shakespeare’s most frequently performed and fantastical plays is spirited and frequently hilarious. Taking full advantage of the already dreamy setting (the actors hare about amongst the trees and dash into the audience for a frolic at various points), the central plot of Hermia and Lysander, two runaway lovers, is played out with boundless energy.
The comic neediness of Helena, a character blighted by unrequited love for Demetrius, earns actress Beth Eyre a special mention, but there are strong performances all round from the cast, all of whom play multiple characters throughout.
The shambolic band of thesps, the ‘Mechanicals’, busily writing the world’s most surreal play in the woods, also drew lots of big laughs from the crowd. My personal favourite character though was Nick Bottom, played by Jamie Alan Osborne, and his bellowing ‘in character’ outbursts during the rehearsals.
The climax of the show is the play-within-a-play at the Duke’s wedding. Brilliantly bonkers, or as Hippolyta has it, the ‘silliest stuff she ever did hear’, it concludes the production on a high note.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs until 26 July, after which the programme changes and you can catch performances of Othello, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew. Tickets are £15 and all shows start at 7.30pm.