A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre

If it s summer, it must be time for the Open Air Theatre at Regent s Park to open. And it must also be time for that old favourite - A Midsummer Night's Dream. This year is no different and the Open Air company doesn t disappoint with a performance which will warm many an audience on many a cold summer night.

This year's Dream is a revival of last year s successful production from Rachel Kavanagh, and Shakespeare s classic comedy certainly works its magic despite the weather being a long way from a midsummer ideal on the night of this review.

A Midsummer Night's Dream has undergone a massive overhaul over the past few years. Once regarded as nothing more than a merry romp, recent productions have tended to examine the latent sexuality in the play and the nature of dreams and imagination. There is certainly no latent sexuality in this production - Demetrious and Lysander are barely one step away from being rapists and this is a sexually-knowing Helena in the extreme. Nor are there any subtle Freudian overtones. This is unadorned Shakespeare - bawdy, witty, energetic and great fun to watch.

The cast certainly gets into the spirit of the play; if occasionally the verse speaking gets a trifle hit and miss at times, it doesn t really matter as the play races along with great vigour.

The Mechanicals in particular are excellent. Ian Talbot is a natural Bottom and looks like he s been playing it half his life (probably not too far from the truth), but Andy Sims Flute gives as good as he gets as a particularly feisty Thisbe in the lamentable “comic tragedy”.

A Midsummer Night's Dream makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening and, as ever, the Open Air setting is magical.

Maxwell Cooter