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Review | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre | 15/07/2023

Each Summer, nestled in the beautiful Grosvenor Park, sits a wonderful in-the-round theatre. Whether collecting a pre-ordered pizza or bringing your own picnic, it offers a unique family friendly experience where theatre can be enjoyed by all.

It is often now expected when presenting Shakespeare to a modern audience that things are updated or altered to keep it interesting. In this interpretation of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ the fairies were part of a travelling circus, with set pieces adding a certain charm. Costuming throughout was excellent and really brought you in to the world of the circus with splash of colour.

Working in the round is no easy feat, but the hard-working cast play well to all sides throughout the 2-hour performance. With Shakespeare himself experimenting with gender fluidity in his shows, this tradition lives on under Elvi Piper’s direction. Laurie Jamieson interprets Tatiana as a gruff hyper masculine Scottish male, much to the hilarity of the crowd. Whenever he is on stage it is magic, with the audience are in the palm of his hand. Same sex relationships are seamlessly addressed with Lysander and Hermia both being played by females. This production proves how effortless inclusion can be, when creatives are brave enough to change the narrative through casting and defying gender norms.

The other stand out performance is by Victoria Brazier, who flawlessly takes on the much-loved role of Bottom. She is hilarious throughout, whether that is during her scenes or mischievously going around the audience eating their snacks and opening their cans! Other moments of the actors intermingling with audience members however prove more of distraction and often seem unnecessary.

The performance is sadly let down by the sound. Whilst somewhat intimate, the venue is still perhaps too large not to use microphones. With several of the cast not projecting their voices well enough to be heard, this is sadly not effectively worked around. Luckily captioning is used for every performance, a great step for greater accessibility. If it weren’t for this inclusion I would have missed a lot of what was going on. During some of the musical moments, being sat by the piano, this drowned out the vocals of those on stage which was a real shame.

When the sound is clearer, musical moments generally work really well. At its most ingenious, we are treated to a version of Gnarles Barkley’s hit single ‘Crazy’. The vocals are split and distributed throughout the cast, with different characters picking up different lines. These cleverly fit in with the various intertwined narratives and it pays off really well.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre until Sunday 27 August 2023. See below for booking info:

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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