Review – Midsummer Night’s Dream – Michael Grandage Company at Noel Coward Theater

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After a Fram-tastic night at the Old Vic’s Much Ado, I have to say I was feeling a little bit nervous about a second night of Shakespeare in a row. To make it worse, I’d just seen an outstanding Midsummer at the Tooting Arts Club – and I’ve been finding the Michael Grandage Company’s season generally pretty weak. So: their latest is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Should I go? Well, it is being done with the most excellent Sheridan Smith, and it was only ten quid for the seats I bought back in, oh, September or something last year. (FYI: Royal Circle H14 – H17, simply an outstanding view, wish I had booked for the whole season in those seats!)

And … hey, it was good! The set was lovely and fairly simple, sliding glass door/window things kind of like a ruined great house, with people in 30s-ish garb … and then suddenly the house flies away and we’re in a room with a big hole bombed out of the wall and a gigantic moon (three stories, I think!) looming over the back … the fairy wood in which most of the play would take place. The front still looked like an abandoned manor, with a spiral staircase going upstairs (to Titania’s bower) and a few chairs scattered about. It was a model of simplicity.

The acting, meanwhile, was basically what the show calls for – a dignified Hippolyta (Sheridan Smith) and Theseus, buffoonish “rude mechanicals,” silly young lovers. The fairies were done as hippies, complete with pot smoking and a sheet of acid for the “love flower;” Smith made a fetching, Janis Joplin-styled Titania, while her Oberon, with his long coat and bare chest, was six different shades of sexy. The very tall (next to Smith) David Walliams plays Bottom, and while physically he was very good for the character, I find he was a bit too much of a ham for my taste (although if a lot of the audience were actually there to see him they probably wouldn’t complain).

The show was done quite well, but in the end, I found the scenes with the lovers not as funny as they had been with the Tooting Arts Club, and I was ready to leave before Pyramus and Thisbe had finished – it’s meant to be bad, but even knowing this it wore out its welcome. Still, for ten pounds it was very enjoyable not to mention positively refreshing after the previous night’s fiasco.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013.)

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3 Responses to “Review – Midsummer Night’s Dream – Michael Grandage Company at Noel Coward Theater”

  1. Denise Says:

    Sheridan Smith is a very versatile actor. I didn’t realise she did Shakespeare too.

    I haven’t actually seen that many Shakespeare comedies I found really funny. Shame I didn’t know about the Tooting Arts Club 😦 Will have to keep a better eye on your excellent blog in future.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Well, I remember Sheridan Smith playing Hermia in Regent Park’s production of MSND a few years ago, and yes, she again shows how versatile she is, and really looks as if she’s having great fun being Titania! She’s playing the role exactly as Michael Grandage envisaged she would, so credit to him on his inspired casting and directing. Very entertaining production, and David Walliams provides some great laughs . . the audience certainly enjoyed the show when I saw it this week.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Those h17 seats are amazing for £10! Unfortunately I have v23 for this such a bad view!

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