A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Performed at Rowntree Park
19th to 30th July 2006

Charles Hutchinson in the The Yorkshire Evening Press wrote:

If you see an enraged young man in a grass-stained white shirt running around the perimeter of Rowntree Park waving a stickmanically, do not try to administer a citizen’s arrest.

The dear deluded young thing answering to the name of Lysander is under the influence of amagic plant juice, all perfectly legal in the Forest, a fairy kingdom evenmore liberal than Amsterdam in its attitude to sex and drugs.

Last summer, York Shakespeare Project first ventured to this far-off parkland for another tale of hot and bothered young lovers, Romeo And Juliet, whereupon the project belatedly blossomed amid themown grass and flowers and trees.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, asmuch a part of the British summer as hosepipe bans, thrives evenmore in the outdoors, and Rowntree Park has the best of both worlds, town and country.

The concrete floor and stone walls of the park’s bandstand signify the urban Athenian court of Theseus (Thomas Hunt), here given a somewhat startling Fascist twist by director Mark France with red-and-black insignia.

This is replaced with ivy by the woodland fairies of Titania (toned, slinky, catwalking Audrie Woodhouse) in the first of several directorial innovations by France – none better than the fairies ensnaring the exhausted young lovers in a spider’s web of rope.

France uses the park’s natural amphitheatre to good effect, having the aforementioned warring lovers – Oliver Bevan’s Lysander, impressive debutant Marc Farrington’s Demetrius, Regan Bevons’ Helena and Sally Mitcham’s Hermia – rush through woods and leap over hedges while the play continues around them.

Engineered by Rachel Johnson’s impish, ivy-clad Puck and Dermot Hill’s querulous Oberon, the lovers’ breathless fun and games are light and flighty, in contrast with the deliberately drawn-out, rough-hewn, dim comedy of the Mechanicals.

Bottom’s up to Keith Cartmell, an experienced Shakespearean hand newly transferred to York from the other side of the Pennines, whomakes a right proper ass of himself as Bottom.

His post-coital cigarette after the ride of his life with Titania is this rumbustious night’s defining moment of comic cheek.


See also: The British Theatre Guide review by Peter Lathan.


Players

Oberon
Dermot Hill
Titania
Audrie Woodhouse
Puck
Rachel Johnson
Peaseblossom
Kathryn Hirst
Moth
Emily Cartmell
1st Fairy
Bex Calpin
Cobweb
James Calver
Mustardseed
Bryony Groves
Theseus
Thomas Hunt
Hippolyta
Jenny Carr
Philostrate
Julia Atkinson
Egeus
Kinsley Hoffman
Demetrius
Marc Farrington
Helena
Regan Bevons
Lysander
Oliver Bevan
Hermia
Sally Mitcham
Bottom
Keith Cartmell
Quince
Alistair Carr
Snout
Matt Simpson
Snug
Heather Cartmell
Starvelling
Ben Sawyer
Flute
Emily Graham

Crew

Director Mark France
Assistant Director
Cecily Boys
Stage Manager
Paul Shepherd
Designer Jennifer Sutton
Musical Director
James Calver
Properties/DSM
Fritha White, Julia Atkinson
Lighting/Sound
Jamie Searle, Jason Drake, Ben Walden
Marketing Ali Borthwick, Hannah Murphy
Front of House
Raymond Baggaley, John Sharpe,
  Members of the Project