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Review of Omnibus Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s DreamSome theatre productions bill themselves as Immersive or interactive or site-specific or promenade and they can be hit and miss affairs – I’ve seen quite a few in the last year or so and they’ve nearly all been misses. But Creation Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not that – in fact, it’s a big, big hit – and it is immersive, interactive, site-specific, promenade – and more.

Advertised as being at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, in fact this production takes you all over the area as you follow various characters, get clues, follow signs and interact with the likes of Egeus, Bottom, Helena, Lysander and other characters from Shakespeare’s most famous comedy, weaving the Bard’s iambic pentameter with modern dialogue and idioms – it may sound odd but it works a treat. For example, Egeus is desperate that Hermia doesn’t marry Lysander as he’s a barista and not a barrister!

Without giving too much away, your journey starts at one of several meeting points. You assemble with your nine fellow travellers and are given a specific flower to wear at the wedding you’re going to. You’re told that if you see any other groups on the journey also wearing flowers, you can wave at them. You then start on a voyage of discovery that takes you to amongst other sites, an estate agent, the back room of a pub, a café, a solicitor’s office and many more. You’re given clues, such as door codes, keys to locked filing cabinets etc. You follow the instructions you find, are given or steal from back pockets or arrive as paper airplanes from out of nowhere or texts and you follow arrows chalked on the pavement to your next destination – all the while trying to avoid the fairies!

You’ll also be taught to imitate owls, bats or even Lionel Ritchie and encouraged to sing, dance and interact with both your fellow travellers and the characters you come across. There’s film, augmented reality, projections and magical illusions – all are which are superbly done.

To give any more away, would spoil it for anyone planning to go – and go you should. If you’re looking for enlightenment on the convoluted plot of Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece, you won’t get any in this production but you will have a wonderful time. It’s funny, clever and superbly put together. The technical hurdles and the logistics must have been a nightmare for the production team but the result is a triumph for everyone concerned.

The cast of twelve are all splendid but special mentions go to Rhodri Lewis as a giant of a Bottom – both physically and in his performance. His partner in crime and fellow Welsh-accented “mechanical” Shelly Atkinson as Quince. Puck as he should pops up puckishly (and once or twice magically) everywhere and is superbly played by Colin Hurley. The young lovers Hermia (Lucy Pearson), Lysander (Andy Owens), Helena (Natasha Rickman) and Demetrius (Rob Hadden) are full of youthful energy and innocence and all give excellent performances as does Lewis Chandler as the fey and flighty Flute (aka Thisbe).

This was the most fun I’ve had at the theatre for a long time and everyone in our group threw themselves into being owls, singing and dancing to “I Will Survive” all the while gathering clues and avoiding any fairies – whatever happened to the famous British reserve?

It’s on until June 30th so get down to Clapham if you can. It’s family friendly and a great introduction to Shakespeare’s tale and will appeal to children (and adults) of all ages. At the end of the evening Puck addresses the audience and asks, “If we shadows have offended” – in this magical production, they certainly haven’t – in fact, the very opposite.

5 Star Rating

Review by Alan Fitter

Starting in a secret Clapham location, team up to navigate your way through the misunderstandings and mishaps of Shakespeare’s finest comedy. Follow the trails and deliver the wedding invitations, picking up clues and characters along the way. But most importantly, watch out for the scheming fairies… It’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream like you’ve never seen it before.

Following a sold-out run in Oxford last year, Creation Theatre bring their anarchic treasure hunt of a show to Omnibus this June.

Location
Well, that’s the thing you see. There isn’t one, or rather, technically there are many. This show is an on-your-feet treasure hunt performance so it doesn’t take place in any one location.

Prior to the show date you will be given a secret location around the Clapham Common area, and the show will end not far from there around 2 1/2 hours later. We could tell you more, but that would be spoiling the fun.

Artistic Team
Director: Zoe Seaton
Designer: Ryan Dawson Laight
Sound Designer: Matt Eaton
AV Designer: Eva Auster

Bottom: Rhodri Lewis
Patsy Quince: Shelley Atkinson
Flute: Lewis Chandler
Titania: Clare Humphrey
Puck: Colin Hurley
Lysander: Andy Owens
Demetrius: Rob Hadden
Helena: Natasha Rickman
Hermia: Lucy Pearson
Egeus: Giles Stoakley
Oberon: Richard Kidd
Wedding Singer/Passerby: Ryan Duncan

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
16th to 30th June 2017
http://omnibus-clapham.org/

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