The Dream - Titania: Richard Dempsey, Bottom: Bob BarrettA Midsummer Night's Dream

Liverpool Playhouse (22nd - 31st January 2009)
Propeller and The Watermill Theatre in association with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

There are currently at least three different versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream touring around the UK, but surely none of them can be as funny and witty as this production of one of Shakespeare's most popular plays.

All male theatre company Propeller are doing a double header in Liverpool (they are also performing A Merchant Of Venice concurrently with this production), and seemed to thoroughly enjoy acting the various surreal characters in the play.

The often rapid exchange of lines and the fast paced changes of plot sometimes leaves one gasping for air, but nevertheless this was comedy theatre of the highest order.

I would need to write a dissertation to describe all the complex nuances abundant in the play, especially the many and varied insights the Bard reveals into human nature and how fickle Man can be in his/her dealings.

Bottom (Bob Barrett) - he with the ass's ears! - is a revelation, while Oberon (Richard Clothier), with his black, glittering wizard-like robe, brings a nightmare menace to the dream effects swirling all around him.

The great acting is complemented by a beguiling stage set, including a series of garden chairs seemingly floating in mid air, together with omnipresent music - notably the playing of xylophones and harmonica performed by the fairies attired in thermals and jockstraps - and sound accompaniment - the noise of the woodpecker in the forest proved very evocative.

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