As arguably Shakespeare’s most accessible play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always a nice easy watch, and this was certainly the case with the Sewell Barn production.
Director Clare Williamson had hinted at the play being considered a prototype of feminism, and The Dream being the first dramatic example of young women rebelling against patriarchal authority. However, other than being set loosely in the era of the Suffragette movement, the feminist narrative wasn’t really pushed that far. That’s no criticism, and it made for a gentle, uncomplicated evening.
It was a strong cast all round, with a number of players showing their versatility in crossing the boundaries between the ‘foolish mortals’ and the fantasy world.
Never one to pass up the opportunity for a double entendre, I really enjoyed seeing Rob Tiffen’s Bottom, but equally good as his straight-laced foil was Barney Matley as the put-upon Peter Quince. Puck’s role is always one to look out for too, and Robin Croft really stepped to the plate with an energetic performance.
The parts of the young lovers – played beautifully by Naomi Cunningham, Eva Wright, Jose Tarouca, and Zach Burbidge – really came into their own in the second half, as did the energy and the laughter as the chaos steps up a notch.
My only criticism was with the playing space itself. Much as I love Sewell Barn, for me, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play better suited to the outdoors on a warm summer’s eve, where walls, exits, and entrances don’t inhibit the action. Despite the undoubted brilliance of the set design from Phil Williamson, with the space being used to its fullest, the action still felt a little constricted at times, and the lighting a little too stark.
However, that should not detract from what was a collection of wonderful performances from a troupe of experienced and talented actors, all of whom demonstrated their ability to extract the maximum from this most well-known of pieces. It’s well worth checking out.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues at Sewell Barn until the 10th June.