A Midsummer Night's Dream
hundred years on and Shakespeare still has the ability to jolt an
audience into fresh sense of their own times - at least when it's a
production like this.
Academy of Creative Training's A Midsummer Night's Dream was an
end-of-term show for the school that gives many of Brighton's aspiring
actors their break. There were a few wobbles that betrayed the company's
amateur status, but not too many to spoil the fun, and they were
compensated by stretches of action that could easily have found a place
on a professional stage.
striking, though, was the way Shakespeare's comedy is distilled down
into two hours or so in which a play that's usually a light supper for
balmy evenings is revealed to be heavily spiced with sex and drugs and
Higgins direction foregrounds a perverse Puck (Lavanya Boon - what a
name! I want to say it again - Lavanya Boon) whose mischief verges on
malice, Oberon (Paddy O'Keeffe) struggling to keep her (as she is here)
spells conjure from love the pain and frustration of rejection. Not only
is somebody going to get hurt, you think somebody might well get killed
as Hermia (Rachel Young), Lysander (Matt Eden), Helena (Clare Burt) and
Demetrius (Robert Knowles) descend into a kind of insanity.
potions are administered like hard drugs and Lysander and Demetrius
appear literally drunk on lust in their pursuit of Helena and their
cruel treatment of Hermia.
eases as the plot nears its denouement (and in this case there is a very
real feeling of unknotting), and while the play-within-the-play provides
comic, and genuine, relief, I'm still not sure what it's doing there.
But then I was never one for happy endings.
July 15, 2009
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