A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Rose Theatre KingstonCultureTheatre
Director Dominic Dromgoole’s effective staging returns us to a more traditional iteration of the play, one almost completely devoid of modern cynicism. The four lovers are charmingly innocent, and Puck – in a powerhouse performance by Molly Logan – becomes movingly childlike, seeking approval and guidance from a paternal Oberon.
Yet underneath the period garb and merry clog dancing of the mechanicals pulses a powerful undercurrent of eroticism. The lovers gradually lose their clothes as they wander through the forest, growing in romantic and sexual frustration. Wild Titania’s fairies are a startling apparition, sporting animal masks and antlers, and there is no doubt of her carnal attraction towards Bottom, or of bare-chested Oberon’s sexual potency.
Juxtaposed with the broad humor of the mechanicals, the play is consistently off-beat in tone, a feature amplified by comic ad-libbing from various members of the cast. Between the humour, however, we also find moving moments of sentiment. Helena’s pleads for Hermia to remember their childhood bond seems to be a universal cry for female solidarity, while Snug’s insistence on fixing a broken stage plank, mid-play, is as heartwarming as it is hilarious.
In the end, it is the undeniable chemistry between Janie Lee (Titania) and Aden Gillet (Oberon) that ties this piece together. Doubling up as Theseus and Hippolyta, the pair portray an entire spectrum of feeling, from barely restrained contempt to unbridled passion, and it is in the eventual accord found within their relationship that we experience the play’s most satisfying moments.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on at the Rose Theatre Kingston until 7th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.