Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Everyman, Liverpool

Posted on 28 March 2015
By Jeanette Smith
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Now I know why Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy – I have never laughed so much as I did at the Liverpool Everyman’s latest production. No fay fairies here, just naughty spirits in bank robber face stockings and dark costumes. Puck himself (Cynthia Erivo) is a wily fellow, tumbling down onto the stage from a trapeze and directing the proceedings resplendent in a ringmaster’s outfit.

The amateur players are an odd bunch of men in guantanamo type orange overalls. Amongst their lot is Dean Nolan who plays Pyramus with Lewis Bray as Thisbe who bring the house down. Both large men they romp and bellow with aplomb, now robustly masculine then tender and hilarious.

We have near nudity, a phallic appendage, and great physicality between the two. A brilliant double act! And when Bottom (Dean Nolan) acquires and asses head and draws the love of Titania more sensual moments ensue.

The farcical plot is set in what seems to be a cross between a school room and an Athenean Palace, the back wall chalked with impish scrawlings of the characters. Later a curtain lifts and the wall becomes a mirror onto which all the action is displayed, seemingly an eternal space.

The woodland is scattered with masses of scrunched up white paper from which emerge the fairies and other characters in and out of trap doors. The effect is magical.

Titiania/Hippolita (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) is an elegant queen of the fairies resplendant in sparkly dress and a good foil to the strong Oberon/Theseus Garry Cooper.

Of course the tale is one of love given and love mistaken with the aid of magical drops from warring fairies, and it all comes right in the end, but along the way we have many laugh-out-loud moments. Hermia (Charlotte Hope) and Helena (Emma Curtis) are well cast and give robust performances, with Lysander (Tom Varey) and Demetrius (Matt Whitchurch) strong players. But this is an ensemble piece and all the cast give great performances.

Pacily directed by Nick Bagnall the play is interspersed with music by composer James Fortune played by the cast who sing and play. This is a Shakespearean production that will appeal to many, both young and old, though what the schoolchildren in the audience thought of Bottom’s bare bum and enlarged prop will have their teachers wondering!

A Midsummer Nights Dream
Author: William Shakespeare
Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
Directed by Nick Bagnall
Designer Ashley Martin-Davis
Lighting Designer James Fortune
Sound Designer Peter Rice
Until Saturday April 8th
Box Office: 0151709 4476

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