Entertainment | Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Curve, Leicester

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the press night of A Midsummer Night's Dream* at The Curve Theatre in Leicester. "Made at Curve", this was a community production and it certainly had that warm feeling about it. A Midsummer Night's Dream, being one of Shakespeare's most performed plays can sometimes seem a little overdone. Thus, there is a demand to constantly reinvent the play whilst still keeping true to its original script and ideas. This community production did a wonderful job at that - bringing a modern twist without any kind of reckless disregard for the original play.

Sometimes, putting a modern twist on Shakespeare can go awry, seeming to try too hard to be innovative. This was certainly not the case for last night's production! The modern elements were cleverly placed in conjunction with the play's magical and mysterious elements (for example, the songs and dances performed by the fairies). It made sense, with the fairies not being bound by such trivialities as era, and it furthered their contrast with the normality of humans, who were placed firmly within a set era.

The young cast gave it a great energy. The fairies and sprites seem so much more mischevious when portrayed by young adults, whilst the argument between Helena and Hermia became an amusing young girls' spat over a boy. The latter was played brilliantly by Lauren Jones (Helena) and Megan Marston (Hermia), who excellently brought that youthful sass to the fore.

The tech in this show was like nothing I'd ever seen before. The large screen at the back of the stage really helped to enhance the storytelling and the settings. But, despite its uniqueness, it thankfully knew its place and didn't at all overshadow the occurrences on-stage. The costumes were absolutely gorgeous and in the case of the fairies in particular, seemed to showcase an individual personality for each and every character - major or minor.

Alphonso Christie and Simon Butler put on brilliant performances as Duke Theseus and King Oberon, respectively. They had such commanding stage presence that you need not even have listened to their words to know that they were men of authority within their respective societies.

One of the great criteria for a good Shakespeare adaptation is audience accessibility. Far too often, people turn away from Shakespeare in fear that it's hard to understand without an education in sixteenth-century linguistics. Of course, Shakespeare never wrote his plays exclusively for the entertainment of the educated classes, so it certainly should not be limited to that today either. The comedy show put on by Bottom and his companions for the Duke at the end of the play was wonderfully directed. The layout of the stage made it feel as though we, the audience, were watching the show with the Duke and his guests. In a way, the inclusive feel of that scene summarises the feeling of the whole show. This production was so inclusive all the way through, with emphases on the right words making the dialogue understandable and the plot easy to follow. The comic brilliance of Alexander Clifford (Bottom) and James Cottis (Flute) really proved that the laughter of a Shakespearean comedy is open to all.

I had a wonderful night at the theatre, full of laughter and excitement, and was reminded that Shakespeare, despite the stereotypes, really is for everybody.

Production photography: Pamela Raith

*Disclaimer: Although my ticket was courtesy of The Curve, as always all thoughts expressed are entirely my own.

Thanks for reading! What's your favourite Shakespeare play? Let me know in the comments!

Paris out 💃 xxx

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