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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Butterfly Theatre Company's lunchtime production at the St James Theatre whittles down Shakespeare's comedy to it's basics and features a strong cast, says Rhiannon Lawson

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Londoners are culture hungry and time starved. This is the premise that Butterfly Theatre Company have based their lunchtime shows on, and in my book, it works.

I did wonder how on earth they were going to cut down 3 hours of play to 45 minutes; taking a hacksaw to two thirds of the script to enable us all to go back to work within an hour could have resulted in a messy and confusing story. However, it's done well. The ruthless removal of scenes may not be to everyone's taste but I loved it.

We all know the basics and this is what they focus on getting across in an exuberant and entertaining manner; people falling in and out of love with "the wrong" people at the hands of a whimsical and vengeful fairy and the fairy Queen becoming infatuated with an ass. Simple.

With a quick overview of characters and an introduction to what is going on, the audience are thrown into the middle of many scenes, being given the bare minimum of information about the plot. However, the company manage not to confuse us, or leave us in the dark.

It's all very contemporary - modern clothing and regional accents smatter the stage making it more accessible, and in my opinion the better for it; this production really isn't about primp and meticulous old English.

All of the cast play their parts brilliantly. In particular is the absolutely hilarious Paul Harnett as Bottom and Helena, played by Hayley Cusick, who was extremely expressive, taking delight in her highly entertaining "fight" scene with Hermia (Stacey Roberts).

The star of the show is Puck, played by Owen Pullar. This vengeful imp seems to have made the most of the numerous coffee shops in the area as his energy and exuberance are never ending and highly engaging. The way in which he mocks the rhyming nature of his lines is particularly humorous, and brings something new to the text.

I would highly recommend going to Butterfly Theatre Company's lunchtime theatre to beat the drudgery of your work day, catch up with friends and to have a real laugh.

- Rhiannon Lawson