BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Arundel & Ladbroke Gardens
Since 2016, Shakespeare in the Squares have brought their own delightful takes of Shakespeare's works to parks all around London. This year, they mark their annual summer celebrations with a charming and quaint production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Tatty Hennessy brings a convivial atmosphere to the piece, placing the comedy against a post-war 20s Britain and giving it plenty of circus vibes where the actors become a travelling troupe surrounded by buntings and pastel-coloured trunks. Musical numbers and dances are scattered throughout the show, turning it into a joyous display of love, magic, and Shakespeare's gorgeous language.
The text is slightly updated and shortened, running accessibly at just over two hours and 15 minutes with an interval. The setting perfectly plays into the story: the green and breezy surroundings, the birds tweeting in the trees, and the light slowly fading turn the play into a multisensory natural experience.
The company look like they're having the time of their lives sneaking away from the makeshift stage, playing tricks, and building an enchanting illusion for the crowd. James Tobin is a splendid Puck. With flawless makeup and silver boots, he galavants around making mischief and bonding with the audience.
Velvet corsets and golden accents adorn the fairies, who are lead by a headstrong Sioned Jones as Titania who falls in love with a hilarious Jodie Jacobs as Bottom. The latter is a joy to watch: she righteously steals the scene every time she walks on stage; whether she's bullying the rest of the Rude Mechanicals or being spoilt by Titania, she works like clockwork with her companions.
The lovers are silly and comical in their delivery, which culminates with a four-way scuffle that has Puck eating popcorn from the trees while Paul Giddings watches on as Oberon, rapt by the humans.
London is offering a whole lot of choice at the moment when it comes to A Midsummer Night's Dream, but the version presented by Shakespeare in the Squares is sure to transport their mortal audiences to a unique world where reality meddles with Shakespeare's universe.
Photo credit: James Miller