A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999): New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme
PrA Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Antony Bunsee (Oberon); Daniel Brown (Demetrius); Trevor Caryll-Phillips (Puck); Tina Deen (Titania); Bonnie Engstrom (Helena); Jeremy Finch (Lysander); Ysobel Gonzalez (Hermia); Lisa Millet (Bottom).
This production ran from 4 - 27 November 1999.
"Chris Monks has come up with a very enjoyable production, but it is a mixed bag. A girl in men's clothes comes in and conducts an invisible orchestra in Mendelssohn's Overture for Theseus's court, which includes the lovers. A young man, Puck, as it turns out, wanders about invisibly, playing tricks on everybody. The conductor then returns as Egeus and introduces the lovers, as per script, to the Duke. A bit confusing, no? Shakespeare's openings are so brisk and to the point that they do not need five-minute dumbshows to kickstart them. The Mechanicals are played by the same five actresses who play the fairies. Apart from the fact that the five are frankly not up to it, this piece of gender-crossing tells you nothing about either lot and fatally confuses the human and the supernatural that is essential. (Mind you, the doubling must have helped the Vic's tight budget.) Once you get into the forest, things brighten up. The prickly master-servant relationship between Oberon (Antony Bunsee) and Puck (Trevor Caryl-Phillips [sic]) is deftly done, and Monks gets the comedy of the lovers, both a wild romp and a serious erotic battle, absolutely right. Ysobel Gonzales (Hermia) and Jeremy Finch (Lysander) are the best: two atheltic and attractive actors who combine the farce of demented quarrels with the elegant and forgiving comedy of loving, losing and loving again. The sense of benevolent magic mellows and deepens and becomes quite moving at the end. The Vic's attendance figures have risen 17% since last year: not surprising with such work, and something to ponder for people who say that there is no interest in the theatre in the regions." ~ John Peter, The Times, 14 November 1999