A Midsummer Nights Dream

Hamilton Gardens, Tudor Garden, Hamilton

19/02/2012 - 26/02/2012

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Due to unavoidable circumstances on behalf of Slip of the Tongue, this years Shakespeare will differ to that advertised in the printed programme.

Traditionally the festival of Twelfth Night was about turning order on it’s head. And nothing says turning order like performing a completely different play at the last minute.

Indeed – Twelfth Night will now be replaced by A Midsummer Nights Dream. TheTudorGardenwill play host to the beloved tale of eloping lovers,ephemeral fairies and apocryphal players. 

Low on time, high on enthusiasm, Slip of the Tongue, Full House, Apocalypse Lounge and Crossmatch theatre come together to produce a midsummer night like you’ve never experienced.

What fools these mortals be…

Hamilton Gardens

19 February 2012

20 February 2012

21 February 2012

22 February 2012

26 February 2012

Admission Free (although all and any donations will be gratefully received) 

Humorous invention in fast and tight production

Review by Gail Pittaway 21st Feb 2012

When for some reason the planned and advertised production of Twelfth Night from the core troupe of the Hamilton Gardens Festival Slip of the tongue theatre was jettisoned, a new production was born out of the panic, adding in some more of Hamilton’s finest actors from a range of theatrical groups such as Full House, Improv Combat, Apocalypse Lounge, and Crossmatch.

The resulting production of an entirely different play is fresh, bright and joyful; a thoroughly appropriate reinvention of a play which already has so many outdoor scenes.

First, a word about the Tudor Court which adds so much to the pleasure of the evening. It consists of stone terraces surrounding a lower plane in four sections which are not yet planted so currently make a perfect auditorium. It was designed by Peter Sergel, the Director of the gardens, to include painted poles bearing heraldic figures, rising out of knot garden planting in each of the squares. The poles are finished already, and rise like jousting standards, bearing unicorns, sea serpents and griffins, all very appropriate as setting for the Dream. 

The higher stone terraces form the stage area for this production and although long and thin, still project voices out over the lower level of the audience as does the Elizabethan stage, so that only the most insistent of helicopters will drown out the actors’ voices. Many previous outdoor performances, not just of Shakespeare, have been drowned out by traffic, river and road at this site; or challenged by the noise of amplified music from another event in another part of the gardens. So to hear every word, to see every character is indeed a bonus for this venue.

Ross McLeod has already given Hamilton Romeo, Juliet and Viola, a knitting of two great love stories. He takes on this play with characteristic humorous invention, and it runs fast and tight. Graham Cairns anchors the play as vindictive father Egeus, while the crossed pairs of Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia give spirited and physical readings of their roles. Theseus and Hippolyta are also well cast and give strong performances.

The costumes of the faery folk are particularly brilliant with real moth and butterfly patterns on wings, ivy twining up legs, in green hair, marks and makeup in natural colours, all very Rite of Spring. Oberon and Titania (Benny Marama and Jenna Hutson ), both looking and sounding magnificent , revel in power play. 

Philip Garrity is arresting as Bottom, with a strong continental accent and self regard, and the rude mechanicals (in team tee shirts) give him sound support, especially in their final performance in front of the wedding couples. The wall scene and death scene with Anthony Maio as Thisbe are show stoppers.

Puck is a part made for the phenomenon that is Henry Ashby. Here with Scottish accent and Pan-like menace he truly “puts a girdle around” the play.

Finally, a word about the weather. Thunderstorms and rain were forecast for Hamilton last night, but the thunder and lightning stayed well away for the first scene, toyed with us on the fringes of the evening just as Oberon and Titania were “ill met by moonlight”, then waited to drop large drops of rain just as Titania was settling down for the night with Bottom as an ass.  As we all picked up our clobber and moved off to the covered piazza for the final act it was clear nobody minded and many remarked on the fine timing of the skies, only rumbling when the fairies came on. 

All crowded together, refugees from a storm that then retreats, we laugh and cheer as Brendon West, as a Faun complete with spectacular hooves, and Josh Drummond, as a pantomime caterpillar, settle us back down with a few doses of banter and repartee.  Irreverent, and not in the script; but I’m sure it is in the spirit of the Elizabethan playhouse.

The production is not only a heroic rescue but a notable contribution to the tradition of Shakespeare inHamiltonGardens.


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