"Perfect summer night of fun"
by remotegoat reviewer on 05/07/11

You may remember that two summers ago I went along to Iris Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet and had a fantastic time. I said then that I'd be keeping my eye out for more work by this talented bunch and I kept to my word. I've just been to see their latest production, an open-air performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Again it was in the sumptuous gardens of St Paul's Church in Covent Garden and again the theatre company made excellent use of all corners of the space.

The audience are led to various parts of the garden as the play progresses, and the setting really gives the story a wonderful dose of believability. The woodland scenes make the most advantage of the outdoor space with the mischievous fairies looking right at home amongst the dirt, bushes and trees.

The production is a hugely energetic one with all the characters running here, there and everywhere. So much so that I was exhausted just watching them! David Hywel Baynes played Puck in the extremely hyperactive manner of Keith Flint (lead singer of The Prodigy), which was definitely a twist on the usual and a joy to watch. When he and Oberon (played by an excellent Peter Manchester) were together they threatened to steal the show. Matthew Mellalieu also kept the crowd entertained with his booming performance of Bottom. There were also some lovely moments of audience participation - not in the usual embarrassing "let's single someone out and ridicule them" way - that the audience loved and were rather endearing.

I was blessed with the perfect weather on the night I went (and I hope that you will be too when you go along) but this simply topped off what was already a very entertaining evening. There's nothing like a good laugh on a sunny summer's evening and this show certainly provides lots of them. Although I'm aware that Iris Theatre put on all sorts of productions, it is clear that promenade performances of Shakespeare are what they do best and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next summer.

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