On the 6th of March, the Blizzard Theatre Company put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare in North Road Methodist Church. The fact that it took place in a small place created a sense of privacy in order to tell the story of four Athenians and their complicated love stories. All of the comedians did a remarkable job in engaging the audience’s curiosity. Their elocution was also noteworthy knowing the difficulty of speaking Shakespearean English. This play is a success as it managed to make powerful emotions hilarious and evolves from a serious tone at the start into a more romantic and humorous vibe at the end.
The themes of the difficulty of love and jealousy are fantastically conveyed by Hermia played by Emma Gratte, Helena played by Lisa Prescott, Lysander played by Ollie Dixon and Demetrius played by Taylor James Downs. Prescott and Gratte’s diction are very elegant and they engage perfectly with the role of young women of Athens. The theme of magic that causes chaos is put forward by the fairy Puck played by James Murray. Murray’s prompt gestures and his agility of speech give him the supernatural aspect of a fairy that uses his power to play with love. He also moves constantly on stage which gives us the impression that he almost has wings.
The staging is audacious. Space is used very effectively, on stage, on the balcony of the church, amongst the audience etc. Puck’s interaction with the audience and the presence of the Athenian lovers in the audience during the final scene created a sense of complicity and closeness. The comic-timing is recurrent in this representation through the character of Nick Bottom played by Eleanor McIntyre. Her acting needs to be highlighted as every time that she came on stage the audience were brought to laughter. The delivery of her speech was impressive, and her jokes were never too over-the-top. Oberon, the king of the fairies, and his wife Titania were also impressive with their clarity and the control of their words. Their fight in the first half of the play is moving, as they portray a different range of emotions that touches the audience and makes us empathise with what they are going through. Isabelle Bruce who plays Titania delivers her lines with perfect eloquence and the deepness of Orlando Riviere’s voice instantly grabs the audience’s attention.
In the Craftmen’s play, which is meant to be hilarious and ridiculous, the comedians use a range of different props like a sword, a red plastic bag, a ridiculous veil and more. Theseus’s red chair at the start conveys the idea of power and chaos which sets the ambiance for the rest of the performance. The chaos in love and emotions is also very well portrayed by the changing colour of the backdrop in accordance with the mood and tone of the scene. Theseus’s sunglasses are a comical element as it does not match with the Shakespearean time and this sudden interruption of the context creates excitement and prepares the audience for the following event: the craftsmen’s play.
The music during the play is also very enjoyable, the violin and the flute wonderfully set the scene and the romantic and magical atmosphere. The dance in the play also contributes to the building up a world full of magic and fairies and the diversity of colours in the costumes creates an appealing visual.
On the whole, this play was very entertaining. Even though the energy of the play took a bit of time to rise as the beginning was very slow, all of the comedians did a wonderful job in the performance and build up to a chaotic but very amusing ending.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being performed on the 7th of March at 8pm at the North Road Methodist Church.
By Anne-Victoire Mancret
Image: taken from the Blizzard Theatre Company’s Facebook page