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The Stage - Review Wed 14 June 2006 - Julie Watterston...

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

For its only indoor date on a three month door of open air theatre locations, Rain or Shine Theatre Company staged A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the delightful Old Barn in Purley on Thames near Reading.

Small-scale with relatively low budget yet practical and effective set design and costumes, this production takes its strength and success from its tight-knit cast of ten highly talented actors who double and even treble on some roles that are not normally twinned.

David Middleton takes on Egeus and the more challenging role of Bottom, the lovers also doubling as the mechanicals with Meg Meagher as Hermia/Snug, Paul Morse as Demetrius/Snout, James Trueman as Lysander/Flute and Milanka Sofija-Brooks as Helena/Starveling. They also all play various members of the fairy world leaving none of the cast with an opportunity to relax offstage for any length of time. It is therefore an incredibly demanding production involving some clever rescripting that works with charming originality.

In a more traditional way, director James Reynard takes on the role of Theseus and Oberon although Kate Izon’s Hippolyta later becomes Peaseblossom rather than Titania, a part played with perfect superiority by Amanda Beckman who also appears as Philostrate.

Pippa Meekings makes an impressive entrance as a towering Puck who jumps down from Oberon’s shoulders to become a smaller mischievous sprite and there are some imaginative and entertaining touches such as Moonshine’s dog in the re-enactment of Pyramus and Thisbe and Jayne Lloyd’s Mistress Quince.

Toby Stirling - Blackpool Gazette - King Edward and Queen Mary School, Lytham St Annes.

A howling Fylde coast gale and the prospect of Becks and the boys battling it out with Sweden TV did not deter a sizeable audience from supporting the seventh successive visit by Rain or Shine to King Edward and Queen Mary School.

The cast of ten quickly adapted to an enforced move indoors to the less natural setting of the school hall and gave us a richly inventive performance, full of vocal and visual comedy.

If the magical atmosphere of the world of Oberon, Titania and their very fey fairies was slightly dimmed by a high stage with steps, the scenes involving the troupe of Welsh players who seemed closely related to the cast of Little Britain were superb.

David Middleton was impressively versatile as Egeus, Bottom and Pyramus, whilst James Trueman as Lysander and a somewhat goofy Thisbe excelled. Pippa Meekings provided a livewire and beautifully-spoken Puck and Amanda Beckman as Titania was outstanding in her scene with the ass.

Director James Reynard, himself a fine Oberon and Theseus here, has set a high standard with his Rain or Shine productions in recent years.

As the Pyramus and Thisbe play, where the cast hammed it up to great comic effect, brought this performance to a close, the warm sustained applause of the audience, transported from a soaking wet midsummer's eve in Lytham, indicated that the standard has been maintained.


And finally.....Comments on The Dream from our mailbag …

"Your costumes were quite amazing - the colours seemed to glow in the twilight, and Pucks body painting - well just - CONGRATS!"
bullet "A truly lovely production, obviously thoroughly enjoyed by all..."
bullet "We were particularly enchanted by the way you responded to the children seated in front of the stage - their laughter was infectious - a fantastic introduction for them to the Bard's Immortal play..."
bullet "One of the best 'Dream' productions I have ever encountered. I am already impatient for your return!"
bullet "The fighting in the wood was really convincing, and quite dangerous for the actors!"
bullet "A most enjoyable (and hilarious) performance. What a talented company they are, and so energetic!"
bullet "I've seen this play 20 times, and this is by far the best production I have ever seen!"




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