Preview/Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Stables Youth Theatre. Stables, Old Town tonight (Friday) and Saturday. 7.30pm.
STABLES Youth Theatre director Maureen Nelson has already set the bar high with productions of The Wicked Lady and the original Storybag in the past two years.
To bring a fresh perspective to a familiar and often performed play and provide the magic that Midsummer Night’s Dream needs and demands, is a daunting task in itself.
Add to that a young cast, some of who have never performed in a theatre before and have to learn and interpret a Shakespeare play in a matter of weeks, and it becomes Herculean.
Yet this production is an unqualified success.
The talented young cast breathed new life and magic into the play, effortlessly transforming a minimal stage set into an Athenian forest of the mind.
This play can present challenges to professional adult players, particularly for the lovers; the enforced transformations and juxtapositions requiring them to segue from love to hate, bliss to anger and confidence to confusion in the space of one scene. The four lovers here carried it off without missing a beat.
There were some great touches – an all-female cast of rude mechanicals finding the perfect balance of rustic pathos and knock-about fun, pushing their props around in a shopping trolley.
Fairies, materialising from nowhere, found the right balance of beauty and malevolence.
Players seamlessly took on multiple roles, giving the impression of a far larger cast.
There was a controlled energy and exuberance throughout the whole performance, with elements of physical theatre and balletic choreography, but what really stood out was a stage presence that belied the youth and inexperience of the cast.
I have seen many professional performances of this play in a variety of settings and, making no allowance for age, this stands shoulder to shoulder with any of them.
A remarkable achievement – the Bard would be proud.