(seen at the afternoon performance on 15th June 2019). For this one,
the action is firmly emphasising the fairies. Puck David Moorst) steals the show
with some witty asides certainly not in the script. For the other winged folk,
the acrobatic work is spectacular - come back 5 minutes early at least from the
interval. Rachel Tolzman (Bedbug) leads, with Charlotte Atkinson, Lennin
Nelson-McClure, Jay Webb, Charlotte Atkinson and Chipo Kureya astonishing - and
they can all act too.
Tessa Bonham Jones (Helena) is easily the best of the enchanted mortal
couples. Sympathy for her plight, her confusion is truthful and painful. Former
friend Isis Hainsworth (Hermia) has her moments too, the pair working well
together. Suitors Paul Adeyefa (Demetrius) and Kit Young (Lysander) do pretty
well - mean guitar but terrible song - but are slightly defeated by the size of
stage and movement required in creating the intimacy the show deserves. The
strange use of beds doesn't help. Sure, it's a "dream" but it take the metaphor
too far for the monkey's liking.
Proper comedy comes from the Rude Mechanicals, a group from the local
community centre under terrific Felicity Montagu (Quince). There's amazing
humour from Hammed Animashaun (Bottom) with Jamie-Rose Monk (Snug) also having
Hytner as usual re-works text, with odd lines going to unexpected people and
scene orders varied. The modern interjections are smart - "immersive" getting
the biggest roar, and rightly so.
The main problem is that outside of the comedy and circus, there are odd
muddy moments. Already mentioned, the "bed hopping" doesn't really work, and
oddly, neither do Gwendoline Christie and Oliver Chris as Hippolyta / Titania
and Theseus / Oberon respectively. Hytner puts them much on the side-lines, so
that there is never a real impression that they are the puppeteers of the whole.
Sure, they may glower over events literally, but the connection seems a little
Still, it's fun - and the children in particular who were in the pit
promenade audience seemed never less than engaged, a wonderful thing to see. Not
close to the "Chav Dream" which the monkey felt definitive, but better mostly
than the more recent Law / Smith West End run, this is a solid 4 stars that is
very entertaining whether choosing to stand or - as the monkey did this time -
sit and watch the fun unfold.