January 30, 2014, by Peter Kirwan
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Propeller) @ Sheffield Lyceum
The Bardathon has had a slow start this year, as writing and marking priorities haven’t given me a huge amount of time for theatre. New reviews will be further delayed as my first show of the year, Propeller’s wonderful A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was seen as part of a module trip. As many of my students will be writing on the production, I don’t want to mislead/influence them here by writing extensive new material.
However, I can do something else. I last reviewed this production as a PhD student in 2009 with an entirely different cast and some interestingly different decisions. That review is publicly available for all to see on this blog, and I’ve enjoyed returning to my earlier thoughts this morning and considering what the production has changed and retained. I’ll be seeing it again in February when it comes to Nottingham, along with the revived Comedy of Errors.
What’s changed? Well, not a great deal. Puck and Starveling were no longer doubled in the revival, though the bizarre doubling of Hermia and Snug (ruining the symmetry of the final scene, in the only really weak decision) was retained. The nature of Flute’s amusement changed hugely; in 2009, the role was played by the dignified, full-bearded John Dougall; last night, in the hands of the tall Alasdair Craig, Flute drove the audience into hysterics with a riotous performance of Thisbe’s death scene. And James Tucker and Chris Myles made for the most aesthetically opposed pairing of Titania and Bottom I think I’ve ever seen.
I’ll look forward to revisiting the production next month; but it was a pleasure to see that, given the problems of filling the shows of a previous company, this revival had lost none of its sheer hilarity and wistful magic.