midwinter temperatures both inside and out, the Unicorn Theatre
in Abingdon was the perfect setting for A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The mediaeval theatre is part of the abbey buildings, and provided
authentic and adequate scope for a play from the close of the 16th
century. Indeed, the theatre was exploited to its maximum, and included
touches like Puck's Cheshire-cat appearance.
in the Theatre Club's venture tackling the Bard's works, the performance
was ambitious but equally impressive. Shakespeare would have approved
of both the Elizabethan stage and the Club itself, a group of three
dozen local actors, amateurs just as the Company of Bottom-the-Weaver,
but unquestionably more accomplished.
too were the costumes, and functional, inescapably over-the-top
(a plant hanger as Lion's tail), or pretty (but how did the fairies
cope with the cold?). Other wit came from imaginative use of these
fairies as woodland banks and grassy knolls, adding unique touches
too, it was the fairy kingdom that prevailed. Although the Athenian
courtiers and Bottom & Co. discharged their parts honourably,
the spirits worked on a higher plane. Puck was as mischievous -
and confident - as any I've seen, Oberon masterly, and Titania's
proud dreaminess put her too beyond the foolish mortals. They succeeded
in transporting us to spy with them, as it worked its inevitable
way to a happy ending.
audience was engaged from the first, with frequent titters and occasional
roars - not just from Snug-the-Joiner's Lion. And the youngsters
at the front chortled throughout. That's a measure of success for
any Shakespeare production, and confirms that the Bard is well within
the Club's grasp. My only concern? I left wondering if a talent
scout might spirit away the likes of Oberon and Puck.