Thursday, 23 June 2016

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Bingham Musical Theatre Group
64 Sports Bar, Radcliffe On Trent.

There aren't many playwrights who can write a classic piece of theatre and have it performed in so many different ways, but yet again, this is a very different and fresh production of Shakespeare's classic comedy.

Anyone who doesn't know the story should be shot, so i don't need to tell you the plot, so let me get on with the performances etc.

It's a brave director who decides to stage a play outdoors knowing how unpredictable the weather can be, but on Thursday night the gamble paid off with just a spit of rain just before the play's commencement. And I will get the pun out of the way here and now, there was no soggy Bottom (bdoom chhh!).

With the play being set mainly in a wood, what better setting than the woody backdrop of the Radcliffe On Trent's 64 Sports Bar garden area. The birds were singing and the breeze ruffled my silver hair. The sweet smell of nature, the leaves rustling in the breeze and the smell of the grass all added to the wonderful atmospherics.

Graham Buchanan (Oberon/Theseus) borrowed hints of his role as Basil Fawlty from "Fawlty Towers" in his interpretation of the King Of The Fairies with his staccato movements and slightly manic looks, bringing a great fun feel to the role. his Theseus role was a more sterner image, bedecked in German uniform. His Oberon costume a masterpiece of a costume which Dr Who would have given his tardis for. Feathers, scarves, tailcoat, top hat, waistcoat, almost as if he had just stepped out of the Looking Glass. A very entertaining performance which also drew chuckles from the kids who also popped down to see it.

Zoe Stebbings (Titania/Hippolyta) matched Graham's performance well and another two wonderful costumes here. Playing two of Shakespeare's most well known female characters could have been pressurised but another relaxed performance from the lovely fiery-haired Zoe. It's always a joy to watch Zoe act and she didn't disappoint in her dual roles.

Jessica McLean (Hermia) makes her debut with Bingham but is no stranger to the Nottingham stages. Always produces a confident performance and Lysander's intended is another one of those wonderful character roles.

Lindsey Parr (Helena) really brings out the comedy in Hermia's BFF. This is Lindsey's third time in the play and her third different character having played Titania and Hermia in the past. Playing it for laughs really suits this fun lady.

Brandon Ros (Lysander) also makes his debut with Bingham, and again no stranger to the stage. i loved this tall actor's take on the part making Lysander a Bohemian romantic poet and literally throwing himself into the part. He's a lovely physical actor and also has a lovely comedy feel for the role, highlighted in one scene when he is wrestling on the floor with his love rival Demetrius, almost bordering on slapstick at times.

John Stebbings (Demetrius) looks like he could be the serious one in the bunch, but that serious suited and booted image for Demetrius is just a veil for some more comedy. A comedy style at times very typically British with the sword fight with the umbrellas.

Sally Nix (Puck) was always going to be this character in my eyes because she has a certain impish fun trait about her and that transcends to Puck perfectly. Great fun to watch.

The Mechanicals, for you who need to brush up your Shakespeare, hang on that's another show, they are the touring acting troupe whom perform the play within the play, were slightly updated in their normal professions in the play Paul Green Peter Quince/Egeus), Peter Hall (Starveling), Arun Hayes (Flute/Philostrate), Chris McAughey (Pam Snout) who was also the production manager for the show, Jenny Pike (Snug The Lion) and James Parnham (Nick Bottom) were all amazingly good. I love the new occupations and also the slapstick comedy shown by Arun and Peter, and that ladder comedy section never fails to get the audience's reaction. A very physical comedy piece from these two. James, as Bottom was very funny and he showed that he didn't need a microphone as I'm sure the neighbours heard every word of his part. Great fun group who have transformed The Mechanicals into a more updated version of Shakespeare's originals.

Finally, there's the fairies, Alana Brown (Cobweb), Charlotte Buchanan (Peasebottom), Becky Morley (Mustardseed) and Helen Whittle (Moth). These four again were updated with more fiestiness than some of the fairies I've seen in some productions. And what about those final costumes? WOW! a wonderfully colourful ending which literally lit up the night, as did the other character's finale costumes.

We need to thank Becky and Philippa Buchanan for the amazing costumes for all the characters. That's one thing that struck me about this production, just how eye-catching the costumes were. Philippa was also director for this production and by giving the actors free reign to re-imagine what their characters should be like, made for a really interesting and eclectic mix of characters, spanning several decades of style.

Choreographed by a very talented dancer and passionate choreographer, Jamie Buchanan. Did i spot a few Bollywood moves in there? Music wise the playlist ran from Vivaldi's "Summer" from "The Four Seasons" through to "Zorba the Greek", well it was set in Athens.

A very entertaining production which stood up to any of the many other productions that have been performed this year by being different again. It's fresh and funny and by the reactions of the younger members of the audience, a show for all ages, also showing that Shakespeare isn't that difficult to understand and that he is down with the kids.

A brilliant cast and a great idea to take the stage outdoors, especially when the background is as beautiful as it is in Radcliffe On Trent's finest flora and fauna.

You can see "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Radcliffe On Trent at the 64 Sports Bar until Saturday 25 June 2016.

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