A Midsummers Night's Dream

Date 11th November 2021
Society Alton Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Hampshire South Downs College, Alton
Type of Production Play
Director Alison Crow

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

What better way to kick-start a society after the last eighteen months than a piece by the immortal Bard? A Midsummer Night’s Dream is rather out of the usual run of plays and musicals that AODS perform but it seemed to fit the bill perfectly – not too serious and open to the refreshing modern interpretation that Director Alison Crow has given it.

The delightful studio theatre of Alton College was the perfect venue for this very minimalist production: no scenery at all, just a black set with some rostra, to give variations in height, and very few props. Costumes were well chosen – modern everyday dress for the mortals and beautiful butterfly-like wings for the fairies. So, it was down to the well-designed lighting and the cast to create the magic, which they did with gusto.

Space doesn’t allow me to compliment everyone individually, but you all interpreted your characters well and put across the dialogue in a way that was easy to understand, making this a very accessible production of Shakespeare’s work. Stand out for me were Brian Arrowsmith as Bottom – superb characterisation – and Kate Youll as Flute – a joy to watch during the play in Theseus’s Palace!

I must also congratulate the maker(s) of the ass’s head – beautifully done. More a piece of art than a prop. There were some nice directorial touches too – the use of the mobile phone as the oracle, the hand sanitiser and the bushes in the forest. Little touches like these can really lift a show.

A few stumbles with dialogue can be forgiven – Shakespeare’s words can’t be paraphrased or made up on the fly, but we maybe heard the (excellent) prompt a little too often. Otherwise, the play had good pace and flowed nicely between the scenes.

The programme was of good quality (nice to see a page devoted to NODA), giving a good synopsis of the plot. I particularly enjoyed reading the biographies of the cast – so much more interesting and amusing than the cold CVs you get in professional programmes.

Having slept through part of a production of The Merchant of Venice with Sir Alec Guinness as Shylock, I tend to be a bit wary of Shakespeare. No need to fear this production however, you put it across so well that I was on the edge of my seat and understood everything that was going on. A huge WELL DONE to everyone involved.