Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Court Theatre May 30 - June 21, Directed by Joseph Graves
I never expected a William Shakespeare play to end with a cast rendition of Dream Weaver but nothing about The Court's latest production was predictable.
In a brave collaboration with the Peking University Institute of World Theatre and Film, the Court unfortunately managed to make dense Shakespearean dialogue even more difficult to understand.
The bold venture came with both pros and cons but the show programme's warning to the audience about finding dialogue delivery "a little challenging on the ear" was regrettably understated.
The Chinese actors all gave a spectacular effort but some lines were totally lost because of their accents and unnatural emphasis on certain words. Some did better than others and Dan Ni Zhao, who plays Puck, deserves massive credit for her energetic performance and clear delivery.
The language barrier was hard to overcome at times and, as my theatre companion noted, took up "too much brain space" to truly enjoy the playful nature of this plot.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is Shakespeare's light-hearted masterpiece and combines both fantasy and reality to create the original romantic comedy.
Hermia is due to marry Demetrius but is in love with Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius but he is in love with Hermia...it's all very confusing so the lovers run off into the forest to avoid Hermia's grumpy father.
Meanwhile, in the fairy world the Fairy King, Oberon, employs his chief helper Puck to match-make the mismatched lovers and, at the same time, play a deceptive trick on Titania, the Fairy Queen.
Puck's magic goes awry, mischief prevails and hilarity ensues but what sort of romcom would this be if it didn't all work out in the end?
All the while, a group of thespian misfits are rehearsing a show and in the production's second half we are treated to the comedic genius of said play within the play.
Tom Trevella, as Nick Bottom, is a show standout and delivers a rounded and entertaining performance. Rutene Spooner, as Snug, makes a convincing lion and Guy Langford as Francis Flute takes his melodramatic role in his stride.
The music in the production is subtle yet highly effective and invokes the right amount of magical enchantment with eerie undertones.
But onto THAT segue...the show is over and all that needs to happen is applause so why do the cast start singing Dream Weaver? Lovely singing voices aside, this is a cringe-worthy transition to curtain call and it should be canned.
The Court's Midsummer Night's Dream fails to hit the spot overall but is definitely still worth a watch.