Fringe Box



Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Guildford Shakespeare Company

Published on: 20 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 20 Jun, 2017

Matt Pinches and Sarah Gobran as Bottom and a love-struck Titania

By Alice Fowler

What better way to spend a hot summer’s night in Guildford than watching top-flight, open air theatre on our doorstep?

Coinciding with the heatwave is the Guildford Shakespeare Company’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at a magical town centre venue: Racks Close.

Here, until July 1, you may picnic and watch fairies flit amid the trees as the bustle of the town slips away. The grassy platforms of Racks Close are transformed into stages, purple lights glow amid the trees and the actors’ words are answered, here and there, by the song of blackbirds as dusk begins to fall.

Emma Fenney as a wonderful, mischievous Puck

This Dream takes place at the end of the 1960s, amid the Summer of Love. The GSC milks every drop of humour which this conceit provides. The king and queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, are fully fledged hippies, Oberon (Owen Oakeshott) in a Beatles-style brocade coat with guitar slung across his shoulder, Titania (Sarah Gobran) and her fairy-servant Peaseblossom (Ailsa Joy) striding the stage in knee-high patent boots.

A toe-tapping, singalong soundtrack – ‘Mellow Yellow’, ‘My Guy’ – adds to the fun, while the audience is invited to move with the action, exploring Racks Close as they go.

Athens becomes Guildford, and there is much mention of ‘Guildfordian’ dress and customs, provoking audience laughter every time. The play’s young lovers are students at the new University of Surrey while the ‘mechanicals’ are members of the Dennis Factory Amateur Dramatic Society, rehearsing in their tea-breaks.

Emma Fenney is a wonderful, mischievous Puck, glad in neon pink fur bolero, net tutu and stripy tights. The young lovers too – notably Ailsa Joy as Hermia and Meghan Tyler as Helena, wielding a set of crutches – add to the hilarity.

Perhaps the stand-out performance of the night is given by GSC co-founder Matt Pinches as Bottom, sprouting ass’s ears from his red motor cycle helmet. No one in the audience, I suggest, will forget the scene in which the love-struck Titania (Gobran), her eyes bewitched by Puck’s potion, draws the braying Bottom into her bower.

This is an exuberant performance which every member of the small and talented cast seems to enjoy every bit as much as the enthusiastic audience. The forecast is set fair….so why not grab a picnic and head down to Racks Close for an evening to remember?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs until July 1.

For tickets see: Or call the box office: 01483 304384.

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