"Mini Shakespearian Magic in Richmond"
by Karla Leigh Mouncey-Jaggers for remotegoat on 15/09/12

Bottom's Dream by Movingstage is a short play drawn from Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream. Removing all the scenes with the lovers and royals leaves you with Bottom's Dream, a self contained piece that encompasses fairies, dream and comedy. Bottom, the dumb witted and arrogant weaver finds himself caught as a hilarious pawn in a power play between the fairy king and queen.

Movingstage's production was very much set in a dream world, the stylised puppets and enchanting soundtrack drew the audience into the fantasy. The narrative was disjointed and spiky but, like a real dream all these elements came together to create a sort of flow. Long blackouts where the set was changed caused some aggravation but the times when light was used to create a sinister atmosphere, I found these moments eerie and moving.

The technique of the puppeteers was faultless. Each individual puppet had its own distinct character and physicality. Cobweb, Mustard Seed, Moth and Peaseblossom were my favourite puppets. They each consisted of a ball of light with various extremities floating off them, but the way the operators used them created idiosyncrasies for each one. Mustard Seed had a wistful and childlike energy hardly able to keep still and always bobbing up and down. Peaseblossom was calm and ethereal only moving when needed and staying perfectly still when not. The choice to use children's voices for these three characters was inspiring, a great decision.

There was only one thing about this production that needed tweaking. Some of the audio cues and sound quality was off. There were moments of stillness during mid conversation that was down to a slow cue or a bad recording. It would be best for the sound to be turned down during moments of high volume because there were some issues with feedback that made me wince a bit.

The ending scene, which is the play within a play, was absolutely hilarious. Without spoiling it too much with some obvious gags and toilet humour mixed in with Shakespeare's word play, the audience were rolling in the aisle. A wonderfully different night out. For anyone that is a fan of Shakespeare this a fantastic way to grab one last sliver of summer before the nights roll in. Magical.

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