Sheridan Smith "beguiling" in Midsummer Night's Dream

Sheridan Smith, David Walliams and the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream Charles Spencer calls Christopher Oram's set design "memorable - creating a sense of mystery and allure"

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Sheridan Smith has earned positive reviews for her role in A Midsummer Night's Dream, while her co-star David Walliams has divided critics.

Michael Grandage's revival of Shakespeare's comedy had its opening night in London Tuesday.

The play got three, four and five star reviews from critics, with Smith's performance as Titania described as "excellent" and "beguiling".

Walliams's take on Bottom was called a "show stealer" but also "a problem".

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail gave the play a five star review calling it "a fine dream".

"This production catches the Sybaritic jollity, the vivid vim of the Dream. Even in autumnal London you catch a taste of midsummer," he said.

He felt Walliams's camp take on the role of Bottom was "a terrific idea...funny, fresh and rather endearing".

'Enjoyable revival'

However Charles Spencer in the Telegraph was less impressed.

Start Quote

Sexy, swift and sure-footed, a constant delight to the eye”

End Quote Michael Billington The Guardian

"There is something about his smarmy, supercilious demeanour that repels delighted mirth," he said.

He said he felt "more than a little disappointed" by Grandage's direction.

"It's not often that you will hear a theatre critic complaining that a show is too short, but this Dream is performed at such a terrific lick that you wonder whether Grandage and his company have a train to catch."

He said "much of the problem" of the play "stems from David Walliams's Bottom".

"At times we might be watching an episode of the crude and overrated Little Britain rather than one of the greatest comedies in the English language," he said.

He gave the play three stars as did The Independent, who called it an "enjoyable revival". Paul Taylor said Smith "excels" as Titania and called Walliams "delightfully funny".

However he felt the production was "a bit too tame".

"For all the fetching bare flesh and toned torsos on display, there's something curiously antiseptic about these libidinous larks".

Sheridan Smith and the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream Many critics commented on the "fetching bare flesh and toned torsos on display"

"It's undeniably attractive but the spell it casts is not deep," he said.

Libby Purves in The Times gave the play four stars, saying: "It is rare to be so moved by Titania's speech about the ruined farming seasons or to shiver with empathy at the defence of her changeling."

She praised the fight-scenes as "tremendous" and called the staging "both ancient and new, erotic but innocent, un-pretty but beautiful".

The Guardian's Michael Billington also gave the play four stars, calling Grandage's production at the Noel Coward Theatre "sexy, swift and sure-footed, a constant delight to the eye".

The play is part of the first season of Grandage's new production company which is offering £10 tickets to attract audiences who do not usually go to the theatre.

However The Daily Mirror's Rod McPhee said Walliams's appearance in the play would help draw in theatre-goers.

"While the Bard can often seem dusty and dry, this is steamy, fun and will hopefully draw in audiences who wouldn't normally consider theatre like this. That is largely down to the influence of Walliams who steals the show," he said.

"The whole audience leaves delighted because, throughout, Walliams lights up the stage, not just by camping it up but by delivering some rather impressive acting."

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