Review by Ciara Gillespie
Cardiff University’s Act 1 have yet again dazzled audiences with a stunning rendition of Shakespeare’s classic comedy “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. I was perhaps skeptical about going to see the play, mainly because as a newbie to Shakespere I had only heard the name of the play a handful of times but had no clue what it was about. Surely I would be confused throughout and not be able to make sense of it? After some pondering, I decided to take a chance and buy a ticket. Armed with only a quick scan of SparkNotes to understand the basic plot line, I drove to the theatre feeling slightly apprehensive. I knew that Shakespeare plays were usually long…sometimes painfully so. Was I going to going to black out from boredom in the first 10 minutes? Start drooling on the unfortunate soul sat next to me as I snoozed? Thankfully for me (and the shirt of the person next to me) there was no drooling, snoozing or blacking out.
From the moment the lights turned on and the first cast members came out, I was transfixed. Suddenly immersed into a their world. Rebecca Landale (director), made the bold move to twist the play to mold into a dystopian world which perfectly complimented the play’s dark undertones. The contrast between the “real” world and the “faeries” world was done beautifully through costume and makeup. The love “square” of characters like Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia are all portrayed in black and white with bold geometric black shapes on their face. The faeries, like Oberon and Titania are adorned in glitter and color and their magnificent world is filled with paper mache flowers and UV lights which looked incredible in the dark scenes. Visually, Act 1’s recreation of Midsummer was breath-taking and simply beautiful but the actual essence of the play and the sheer talent and commitment by the actors involved was truly the most impressive.
Not a single actor missed a beat and gave their all. All were so incrediably convincing. Molly Wyatt was magical as Puck, Oberon’s messenger. Her shrill voice, prancing and enthusiasm was captivating as was Sinead Davies portrayl of Helena, one of the love sick leads. Her frequent monologues, hopeless romantic nature and frantic displays of affection for Demetrius kept the whole audience laughing and secretly vying for her to win his affections.
As someone who knew next to nothing of the original story, I was totally encapsulated and understood each and every part. The actors dedication to this play is phenomenal and should be commended as Shakespeare is no easy feat. If you want to dance among the faeries, chuckle along at Bottom’s frequent and foolish antics and be mesmerized by an all star cast, production and directing team then come along to see Midsummer.