Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Cambridge Arts Theatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, presented by Headlong at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, April 2. Review by Angela Singer.

THE joy of Headlong’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is that suddenly you are in on the joke with the Bard.

In the middle of the Mechanical’s play I had a glorious moment when I realised that Shakespeare knew back then how dire his work would be in the wrong hands.

The “Mechanicals” refers not just to their jobs but they way they act – and to act badly, of course, you have to be able to do it rather well. Michael Dylan as Francis Flute, Christopher Logan as Nick Bottom and David Shaw-Parker as Peter Quince were the most unmechanical mechanicals, a performance natural and glorious.

Is there anything funnier than actors showing us how to act? I loved Michael Dylan’s Thisby, a tragic heroine who stops amid her sorrow to look round, beaming with satisfaction at the audience. Camp only lightly, like a crocheted doily, Christopher Logan’s Bottom is a beautiful and balletic turn.

Choreographed, athletic and full of charm, if this isn’t the most amusing Dream ever, then it will do until one comes along.

I borrow the line unashamedly – because this production is not afraid to steal lines from other plays, hum tunes from the telly and lace the show with delicious 1950s pop songs.

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The fight between Hermia (Faye Castelow) and a characterful Helena (Deirdre Mullins) is deft and delightful. I believed they had been schoolgirls together.

It was a little touch of genius to set the play in Hollywood in its heyday and have Robin Goodfellow as the film director who then directs the action as Puck – a wonderfully shrugging, slovenly Puck from Sandy Grierson who says “I go” and stays exactly where he is.

In films and in dreams, all is an illusion, all is ephemeral and the lightness of director Natalie Abrahami’s wonderful creation is true to all that....except, I promise you, it will stay in the mind.