Niels Eernink and Martha Havenith
brilliantly executed play couldn't have taken place in a more ideal
setting, an Oxfordian one that is. Imagine relaxing on a well mown
lawn with a bottle of wine and then making your way over to the
outdoor stage in a very attractive corner of the Merton College
Gardens to find the actors in beautiful costumes already "in
pose" on stage.
classic Shakespeare story of love lost and found after madness,
confusion and mayhem in the world of kings and queens elves and
mortals is unleashed with a dash of acting magic.
was very apparent from the start that the Merton Floats and Primavera
theatre company weren't going to dwell unnecessarily on the complexity
of Shakesperean poetry. They approached the play with a sense for
exact timing and the prominence of physical acting kept the play
appropriately "lighthearted". Even the parts of the text
that would have invited some self-pitying moaning about the tragedy
of unrequited love - like Helena's anger at everyone seemingly making
fun of her broken heart - were delivered with witty self-irony.
mix-ups and confusions between the three couples in the centre of
the play - two mortals and one elven - unfold with a speed that
really gives you the feeling that Midsummer really is the time where
anything can happen.
The performance did very much focus on the comedy part of the play.
The characters that were created for pure comedy - like the elven
servant Puck - were played with a relish and rigour that gripped
the audience and had it to tears of laughter at times. Bottom Weaver
has possibly never before played with such childish enthusiasm and
even an amazingly Cockney accent. The 'Workman's Play' in full at
the end was worth the ticket alone. What a corker of an ending.
this stunning summer weather isn't going to last, so don't hesitate
to go and see this wonderful play in all the right circumstances.
are available on the door or in advance via Tickets Oxford (01865
305 305, www.ticketsoxford.com).