dream head

Pocket Dream

Belgrade Theatre

*****

PROPELLER’S Pocket series continues with The Dream, an extremely enjoyable, hour-long, condensed version of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream; not condensed for laughs but as an introduction to the play for new audiences.

Propeller’s stock in trade is using only male actors as was usual when Shakespeare was writing. Only six actors cover all the parts and the script cuts chiefly cover the early and quite confusing part of the lovers in the forest. As Puck (Tam Williams) who narrates (and also plays trombone!) this section enquires, “Confused? You soon will be!”.

Deep in the forest, three distinct sets of characters supply the plot – the fairies, the lovers and the ‘mechanicals’. The fairies’ King and Queen Oberon (Chris Myles) and Titania (Max Hutchinson) are at loggerheads over her new changeling baby which Oberon wants for himself. Oberon’s imp Puck is detailed to make her fall in love with the most unsuitable animal in the forest – and he has changed Bottom the weaver (also Chris Myles) into a donkey. I loved ‘Little Donkey’ on glockenspiel (particularly as not-so-little ‘hung like a donkey’ is supposed to pop into your mind!), loved the close harmony fairies’ chorus, loved the ‘junk’ instruments supplying the mysterious and scary noises in the forest,

Four lovers – though not as tidy as it sounds – have either eloped or followed each other. Puck is detailed to sort out the mess with some magic potions - but makes things worse by mistaking one lover for another. I loved the resulting fight between Helena (Max Hutchinson again) and Hermia (Matthew McPherson).

A team of ‘mechanicals’ is rehearsing Pyramus and Thisbe, a tragic love story. This play-within-a-play is a riot. Chris Myles is Bottom the weaver playing Pyramus. Quince the carpenter (Anthony Jardine) ‘organises’ though Thisbe (Tam Williams) is no lady and fells the lion (Oliver Wilson), mocks Moonshine who sulks , and storms off in a rage.

Propeller, again and again, surprise and delight. It’s take on Shakespeare is always unique, inventive, energetic and accurate, with no concessions to ‘dumbing down’. Earlier generations had Charles and Mary Lamb to bring the glory of Shakespeare to new audiences , this generation has Propeller. And all power to their collective elbow! Directed by Edward Hall, The Dream continues to 06-02-16

Jane Howard

04-06-16 

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