"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
When you're the Royal Shakespeare Company you can take a few risks with Shakespeare and that is what they did with this production. It was like hearing your favourite song done in a completely different way. All the words and the structure was there, just done in a different way.
Set in the mid 1940's, just after the war, the setting matched that era complete with a rather grand, but dusty looking piano, which is where we first meet Puck.
Lucy Ellinson (Puck), looked like a throwback from the days of silent cinema and the inspiration being Chaplin, which fitted in because Puck was presented as the naughty, mischievous clown of the piece.
Lucy was absolutely brilliant in the role, even venturing into the audience, climbing over the first couple of rows and relieving one audience member of a pack of crisps, taking one and giving the rest away. How naughty was that? Then again why were noisy crisps being eaten in the theatre? mmmmm! Serves them right I say!
The cast consisted of 18 professional actors along with 6 amateur actors and 10 local school children (Tuesday night were from the Ambleside Primary School and Hempshill Hall Primary School).
The amateur actors from The Lovelace Theatre Group in Hucknall were excellent and you would not be able to tell the difference from the professionals. Becky Morris (Bottom), Linda Mayes (Quince), Jen White (Snout), Tom Morley (Starveling), Daniel Knight (Flute) and James McBride (Snug) played the Mechanics and presented their play with great comic timing and panache. every one of them shone from the stage and well worthy of the standing ovation they received at the end.
The professionals weren't too bad either. OK, they were better than that, With such a fairly big cast, I won't name check them all as they all delivered the standard that you'd expect from such a prestigious company as the Royal Shakespeare company. A brilliantly funny and different twist with some excellent comic timing from both professionals and non professionals.
You know that saying that less is more, well this can be applied to the sets because while there was no magic forest, not a tree in sight, apart from the twig that Snout carried, you didn't need to see the forest, it just wasn't needed. you knew it was there, you didn't have to see it. And that's the magic of the theatre.
Music wise we were treated to a fairy band of only four who made the music sound as if there were more than the four.
A wonderful fresh direction from Erica Whyman (RSC) and Pat Richards (Lovelace Theatre Group) ensured maximum laughs and complete enjoyment of the Bard's best comedy.
Choreography for the piece was beautifully designed by Sian Williams. Loved the contemporary costumes, courtesy of supervisor Gayle Woodsend and a crystal clear sound design by Andrew Franks.
Yet again, every time I get to see Shakespeare, I always feel that more and more people should be just a little less afraid of experiencing the magic of his writing. A packed audience on opening night shows that maybe more people are warming to Stratford Bill's works and enjoying an evening of top class entertainment from more than 400 years ago.the only other entertainment that is still as popular after 400 years is Ken Dodd!
"A Midsummer Night's Dream - A Play For The Nation" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 7 May 2016. You won't regret seeing this comedy for all classes and all ages.