A Midsummer Night's Dream
|Date||15th July 2023|
|Venue||The Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale|
|Type of Production||Play|
Author: Joyce Handbury
The play is set in Athens, and consists of several subplots that revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. One subplot involves a conflict among four Athenian lovers. Another subplot follows a group of six amateur actors rehearsing a play which they are to perform before the wedding. Both groups find themselves in a forest inhabited by fairies who manipulate the humans and are engaged in their own domestic intrigue.
Chatsworth Players decided their summer show of the play would be an open-air performance and would be put on in six different venues. Unfortunately one performance had to be cancelled because of the weather and I had my doubts about my visit as heavy rain and high winds were forecast. The show did go on even though it did rain, albeit intermittently, and we, the audience, were huddled up in rainwear, blankets with umbrellas at the ready (if you weren’t seated near the front) but the actors valiantly carried on and at times some of them were sitting on/or lying on the wet grass! If ever there was a case for handing out medals, each and everyone of the cast were so deserving of one.
A very distinguished Jim Gillespie showed the impatience of Theseus to get married so forcibly, as when he, in no uncertain terms, ordered Hermia to obey her father or suffer the consequences. Equally dignified as Hippolyta, Jo Greene calmly, but again quite strongly, points out that he must wait. A very angry and irate performance was splendidly delivered by Melvyn Osborne as Egeus, Hermia’s father. G Day excelled as the feisty but insecure Hermia portraying the nuances of the character so well. Mia Luft too, gave a fine performance as Helena who suffered from an inferiority complex mainly from the doubts in believing that two men could be in love with her at the same time. Both characters were excellently portrayed delivering their rivalry with great passion but eventually ending up as friends. Will Cousins as Lysander portrayed the confidence of the character superbly and the somewhat sulkiness and brashness of Demetrius was too superbly delivered by Tom Dawes. Stuart McLean was outstanding as Bottom/Pyramus. His comic timing, enthusiasm and animated antics were just hilarious and his transformation into the ass was brilliant. Another outstanding performance came from S Day as Puck. The mischievousness, cheekiness and playfulness of Puck was fantastically portrayed. Every movement, every facial expression was just so delightfully achieved. Chris Rooke gave a most powerful performance as Oberon, he commanded the ‘stage’ with great authority and Alicia Bloundele gave a beautiful interpretation as Titania. She portrayed the tenacious side of the character divinely but was so flirtatious with Bottom, following the ‘potion’. Her three attendant fairies were delightfully played by Bibi Ottley as Peaseblossom, Billy Baker as Cobweb and Wilfred Ottley as Mustardseed. The Players were fantastic - Kate Stuart as Quince, Helen Rogers as Starveling/Moonshine, Charlotte Cooper as Flute/Thisbe, Sally Shaw as Snug/Lion and Nicky Wright as Snout/Wall. The rehearsal of the play was great but the actual performance of the drama turned out to be somewhat different in that it was absolutely hysterical. Each ‘character’ was just superb. I loved the wall, and the ever-lowering chink in it and what a fantastic roar came from the lion - the whole ‘play’ was brilliantly delivered. Oh, a gorgeous dog was wandering in and out of the audience throughout but it wasn’t till we had the ‘play’ that I realised that she was part of it and was in fact Daisy Wright playing the part of Moonshine’s dog. At the end of the performance all the cast formed a circle and danced around the ‘stage area’ to the playing of the violin by Puck and a large tambourine by Oberon, taking bows as they circled.
The performance was in a large field in Whitworth Park and the ‘stage area’ was defined by a rope circle and within it was a wooden bench and a large wooden log. There was a lit arch of flowers to the back where some entrances were made but the majority of entrances came from either side of the performance area. The costumes, some of which were hired, were traditional for the period and were absolutely gorgeous and the make-up, especially that of the fairies, was so creatively effective. The sound engineers did an admirable job, I heard every word. As I have already alluded to, the fantastic and talented cast deserve every accolade for performing under the unfortunate weather conditions that prevailed. It was a truly inspiring and awesome production. Many congratulations to Director Lindsay Jackson, to Choreographer Jo Petch and indeed to everyone else involved. Many thanks also to Lindsay, for the warm welcome I received.