A new production at the Crucible Theatre of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays is a delight, writes Alan Payne.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by Robert Hastie, and has an arresting circular set, designed by Chiara Stephenson, featuring a suspended moon and a grand piano. Both of these are used in highly creative andvisually stunning ways during the course of the play.
The keynote of this production is music, associated with the fairy world, composed by Dan Gillespie Sells (the composer for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), and directed by Bobby Delaney – who is also a stunning Puck.
Phil Cheadle, doubling as Theseus and Oberon, sets the standard for speaking Shakespeare’s verse with clarity and force. Peter Quince, the organiser of the mechanicals, becomes Peta Quince – winningly played by Sophia Nomvete. Daniel Rigby captures both Bottom’s naivety and his knowingness. Francesca Mills is an eye-catching Snug, bashful at first, but full of energy and wit when she takes on the part of Lion.
But this is an ensemble piece, in which all the actors play their parts with agility and humour.
The fairy roles are shared among the cast – the emphasis being on their otherworldly eeriness. The mechanicals almost steal the show with a zany, inspired version of the play within a play. At the end a sense of wonder is re-established with a visual representation of celestial harmony which unites the different worlds within the play – although Puck, as always, has the final word.
The audience responded with enthusiasm and laughter.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on until Saturday, October 20.