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Review: A Misummer Night's Dream at the Epstein Theatre ****

A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains one of the best-loved of Shakespeare’s plays.

Magic, sprites, comedy, star-crossed (or for much of the evening simply cross) lovers – there’s plenty for audiences of all ages to enjoy.

And there’s plenty for Epstein audiences to enjoy in this new production from director/producer/actor Daniel Taylor and his 17-strong cast.

Taylor has given himself the role of weaver Nick Bottom, butt of many of the jokes, and plays him as the amiable, but supremely annoying ass that mischievous sprite Robin Goodfellow transforms him into, with giant hairy ears and a honking, braying laugh.

Shakespeare would have been 453 on Sunday – the same day, incidentally, that James Templeton ran the London Marathon.

But the gruelling 26 miles doesn’t seem to have had an effect on the actor’s energy levels. His Puck is a live wire who leaps and bounds on and off stage, and in and out of the arms of his master Oberon (John Schumacher).

Director Taylor makes wide use of the auditorium, with the action spreading to fairy light-encircled alcoves and also to the balcony, from where the Athenian wedding party watch the lamentable tale of Pyramus and Thisby unfold.

The hapless ‘rude mechanicals’ up the broad physical and visual comedy of the play-within-a-play. Let’s just say you won’t be able to miss the obvious attractions of the fair Thisby.

But it’s not just about broad comedy. There is great storytelling from the quartet of young lovers Hermia (Sophie Coward who also plays a flute), Lysander (Sam Donovan), Demetrius (Simon Willmont) and Helena (Chloe Taylor).

Indeed, the thread which binds the entire evening is an impressive clarity of delivery from the entire cast.

Whether you’re a seasoned Shakespeare fan or a first time audience member, this Dream is one you’ll be happy to remember when you wake up in the morning.

Photos by David Munn.

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