To see A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a perfect July evening at the Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park is to ask oneself as Demetrious does “Am I awake, or do I but dream?” A perfect comedy in the most perfect setting is a gift that prompted me to reflect on the riches that London has to offer. A man who is tired of London is tired of life, said Samuel Johnson. Well as long as there are summer productions of such gems as this in this most glorious of settings I for one will never tire of London. There are two other productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing in London right now but this is the one to see because at the Open Air Theatre the magic of the woods, the trees, the fairies, Titania the Queen of the Fairies, King Oberon and his servant Puck all comes more thrillingly to life. A perfect play, in a perfect production in the perfect place. Take a picnic, get there early-doors open at 6.15 – and make it an evening to relish and cherish.
The set by Rachel Canning with a huge metal circle framing the backdrop evoked all the many senses of the cycle and the circle. The cycle of the seasons, the cycle of day and night, the cycle of life, the shape of the sun and moon, not to mention the Globe Theatre and Puck’s boast that he will put a girdle around the earth in 40 minutes. For me, it conjured up memories of the TV programme Playschool and the excitement of finding out which window, the square, rectangular or circular the story would be seen through today. A white sheet was rigged up inside the circle and turned into a hammock within which Titania slept as if she were the woman in the moon. A brilliant image which gave this enchanting spectacle yet another layer of magic and visual delight. Director Dominic Hill kept the right balance between fairyland and farce, high and low, Athens and the Woods. Dressing the four lovers in their jimjams and bringing their own mattress for the scenes in the woods worked well. It gave a knowing nod to the play’s themes of sleep, dreams, nightmares and falling in and out of love.
There are many stand-out performances to savour. Myra McFadyen as Puck is very well cast. Diminutive and impish, with a Tintin hairstyle, a black suit and bow tie and a gorgeous Glaswegian accent she frolicked with delight as she watched the hapless lovers make fools of themselves. Gabrielle Brooks as Hermia and Remy Beasley as Helena were both excellent and in the exchange of insults – “painted maypole”, “she was a vixen when she went to school” – they gave as good as they got. Amber James as Titania was haughty in her scenes with Oberon (the impressive Kieran Hill) and magnificently protective of her Indian child. Presented in an extraordinary piece of puppetry from Mei Mac. Susan Wokoma is a brilliant Bottom, Gareth Snook gives a comic Welsh schoolteacher touch to his Peter Quince, all teeth and repressed anger as he shouts “Ninus Tomb” for the umpteenth time. Tomi Ogbaro’s Lion is hilarious and Joshua Miles as Thisbe brings the park down as he bellows at the top of his voice over the dead body of his lover Pyramus “his eyes were green as leeks“. A wonderful evening. As good as it gets.
Review by John O’Brien
Through live music, playful adventure and physical invention, see the lovers’ world transformed into a place of magic, laughter and healing, as we journey into the woods.
Cast: Remy Beasley, Gabrielle Brooks, Liz Crowther, Michael Elcock, Kieran Hill, Amber James, Matthew James Hinchliffe, Mei Mac, Myra McFadyen, Lee Mengo, Joshua Miles, Pierre Niel-Mee, Tomi Ogbaro, Simon Oskarsson, Yana Penrose, Emily Rose-Salter, Gareth Snook and Susan Wokoma.
Weather adds a thrilling and unpredictable dimension to our work, but it can also affect the scheduling of our short technical and preview periods. If you are unable to attend on Monday 8 July, we would be delighted to arrange tickets for another performance following that date.
Director Dominic Hill
Designer Rachael Canning
Movement Director Emily-Jane Boyle
Composer Paddy Cunneen
Lighting Designer Ben Ormerod
Co-Sound Designers Simon Baker and Jay Jones
Season Associate Director (Voice) Barbara Houseman
Casting Director Vicky Richardson
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have the pleasure of inviting you to the media night of
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Directed by Dominic Hill
Open Air Theatre, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4NU
Shakespeare’s fantastical fable of desire, confusion, jealousy and growing up.
BOOKING PERIOD: 28 Jun – 27 Jul 2019
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Monday – Saturday: 7.45pm, Thursday & Saturday: 2.15pm