A Midsummer Night's Dream (Middle Temple Hall)
The local tradesmen of Athens are unperturbed by such surroundings: in a sweet touch, Quince, Bottom et al saunter into the hall and chat to the audience while they settle.
There is no set to speak of (save some ladders which are used by the fairies to perch upon and from which to spy upon the mortals), encouraging the audience to use their imaginations and Shakespeare's language to paint the landscape around them.
What really sets the piece apart is not its staging nor the harmonious (if over-cinematic) melodies by James Borrows, but its lively wit and joie de vivre.
The audience was delighted by touches such as Snout (Chris Waplington) giving Bottom (Nicholas White) a V-sign when asked to enact the chink in the wall. The Mechanicals are particularly noteworthy, especially slow-witted Snug (Chris David Storer) and camp tailor Starveling (Chris Courtenay) who practically channels Mr Humphries from Are You Being Served?
There is also fine work from the lovers, playing up their youth and petulance. Of especial note are the sometimes unladylike ladies (Ami Sayers and Joanna Nuttall) and the ludicrous, frequently uproarious one-upmanship of Demetrius (Robert Welling) and Lysander (Edward Lewis French).
The humility of the epilogue is one of the production's finest moments - following the liveliness of the piece, it allows for a moment of self-deprecating introspection.
This is a lovely evening out, a true pleasure to witness and I defy anyone not to leave with a huge grin on their face.
- Miranda Fay Thomas