"Ingenious Concept with Promising talent"
by David Rumelle for remotegoat on 06/04/16

There are some promising performances and some excellent characterisations on display in this innovative showcase production directed by Sian Webber.The familiar tale of four young lovers entangled with sprites, fairies and a rustic theatre group needs little explanation-and by and large the tale is portrayed clearly and with focus. Running at just over 2 hours-the piece is concise-despite a slow start and some lack of pace that doesn't resolve until the middle of the first half.
The staging is minimal with the cast remaining onstage throughout and the setting is a simple one of bamboo canes that in turn become the enchanted wood.
There is some excellent multi casting in the shape of the rude mechanicals -doubling as fairies and sprites-and played with excellent differentiation by Charlotte Miller and Lexi Anthony- whose Flute and Thisbe steals the second act. Their accapella singing is also a haunting addition to the enchanted forest and the portrayals of Lion and wall are both inventive and highly comical in the second act.
Michael Forrer as Quince and Egeus presents an excellent contrast of old man and frustrated director.
As Bottom-Marcus Kinsella balances his comedy and drama well-and is particularly strong as Pyramus in the second half- showing us he can change tack in an instance.
On the side of the sprites-Tom Evans as Puck has excellent physicality and his scene with the lovers in the forest is particularly impressive-as is the staging of this whole sequence.
It is the Lovers who carry the show however and Maurice Humphrey's ,Murray Simon, Olivia Sewell and Alex Louise are equally confident, clear in their projection and diction and strong in their characterisation. Their energy is impressive Alex Louise as Helena is particularly strong and feisty.
The piece as a whole however suffers somewhat from blocking that fails to give the cast the fluidity they require. The stage traffic is stilted, and particularly in the early rude mechanical scenes the pace is slow and holds back both the energy and the physicality of the protagonists.
The second act play within a play however is beautifully staged and performed and gives way to some much needed comedy. Sadly the choreography and choice of music is incongruous and contrived.
The piece allows the cast to shine but it is a concept that needs more exploration to reach it's potential. Technically- the lighting is bland and ironically the best lit scene is one in which the cast use hand held torches.
Sadly the roles of fairy king and queen( doubling as their Amazon counterparts at court) are largely inaudible-even from the front row and lack diction and clear direction. A great shame- as the production and cast clearly have a lot of promise and more experienced actors would have over-come these comparatively minor set-backs.

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