BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, St Nicholas' Rest Garden
The Lord Chamberlain's Men return to Brighton Festival with their dreamy production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This year the all-male Shakespeare outdoor theatre company are launching their 15th anniversary season at the St Nicholas Rest Gardens in Brighton city centre.
A Midsummer Night's Dream follows the antics of fairy kings and young lovers during an eventful night in the woods. It contains the timeless proverb that "The course of true love never did run smooth".
Morgan Brind's striped set conveys an endless forest and the regal costumes (Brind and Polly Laurence) have fantastical elements, befitting of the characters in play.
Peter Stickney's direction maximises moments of comedy and summons larger than life performances from all on stage. Choreography by Darren Royston makes full use of the platform and complements the lilting folk music used in the piece.
The troupe sing a Capella folk songs throughout and create a warm rounded sound, with only the occasional wandering pitch. Alex Beetschen's vocal arrangements of folk songs are cheery and playful.
Alex Wilson makes an impassioned Lysander and his Peter Quince has an endearing thirst for life as he strives to rehearse his play to the highest standard.
George Readshaw makes a wonder Helena, delusional at first then delightfully dumbfounded when she suddenly finds herself with two admiring suitors. His take on the bellows-mender-actor Flute is delightfully humourous as he reluctantly takes on the female role of Thisbe in Quince's play.
James Camp revels in the role of Bottom, as do the audience, and his Demetrius is appropriately moody. The contrast in his loathing and longing for Helena post-love potion is very pleasing to watch.
James Keningale takes to the stage as Egeus and the Philostrate but it is his understated Robin Goodfellow who he spends the majority of the piece playing that he must receive praise for. Causing mischief without having too much of a poltergeist vibe was a wonderful take on the character.
Joshua Glenister is wonderfully coy as Hermia, oozing elegance. His Snout is a complete contrast, as a cheerfully simple character who takes pride in his role as "the wall" in the play's finale.
Maximillian Marston plays the Athenian King Theseus and Fairy King Oberon with a commanding presence and warmth that redeems his character after playing cruel tricks on his fairy queen Titania (Will de Renzy-Martin).
Will de Renzy-Martin has a regal quality to his performance as both Fairy Queen Titania and Oberon's bride, Hippolyta. The no nonsense attitude goes down well during the exasperatingly silly play they have to sit through at the end of their wedding day.
A magical evening amongst the trees, The Lord Chamberlain's Men once again deliver a Shakepeare play to a very high standard and is certainly a highlight of this year's Brighton Festival.
A Midsummer Night's Dream at St Nicholas Rest Gardens until 25 May then continues on tour.
Photo credit: Jack Offord