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March 2004
Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Studio Theatre Club:

A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon.

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By Susan Biggin

Despite 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.

Latest 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.

Excellent 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 of humour.

Overall 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.

The 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.

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