A Midsummers Night's Dream

Date 16th July 2021
Society Chesil Theatre (Winchester Dramatic Society)
Venue Wolvesey Palace Winchester
Type of Production Play
Director Sarah Hawkins
Musical Director None
Choreographer Emma Barker
Producer Helen Bliault and David Small

Report

Author: Mark Allen

With huge anticipation of a great night, we arrived at the palace of the Bishop of Winchester, picnic and chairs in hand, for Chesil Theatre's production of the Bard's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Warmly welcomed by Vara Williams, we were shown to the grounds, superbly idyllic for this production, and took our place with much to look forward to.

The performance, postponed from this time last year due to Covid, had been put together, largely virtually by "Zoom" followed by a very short (and I'm told in inclement weather) outdoor rehearsal period prior to its opening. With that in mind you could be forgiven for thinking that the performance, staging, lighting etc would be sub par, given the extraordinary previous 18 months, but no, not a bit of it. The staging was small and compact and set around a green backlit tree in the corner of the gardens of Wolvesey Castle and as Chesil had full use of the gardens they certainly used all that they needed to full effect.

The costumes were effective (well done Juliet Hawkes and Jane Varrall, that can't have been easy) for the period that it was set in, that being a mid 20th Century (1950's) timescale. The cast, thirty two of them, were well drilled, always on time and looking as if they were really enjoying themselves. This most definitely came across to us in the audience. Diction was clear, concise and not rushed, every word was heard and no "nervous" lines delivered; given that the rehearsals were mostly online this is to be very much commended. It ran at a good pace, always a relief with Shakespeare. As the evening progressed and the sun set, the lighting kicked in and although very simple it was very effective, adding to the conclusion. Sometimes less is more.

The performances of the players were of a very high standard with Peter Andrews as Bottom, Tez Cook as Puck leading the way, ably backed up by Claire Kerry and Jennifer Hale as Hermia and  Helena respectively along with all the cast it really led to a fantastic show. I have been reviewing and reporting for many years on many diverse Chesil Theatre shows, never ever having been disappointed, and A Midsummer Night's Dream was no exception. A fabulous very enjoyable performance, very well done.