Tag Archives: David Leopold

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
★★★★★

Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens

A Midsummer Nights Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens

Reviewed – 25th June 2019

★★★★★

 

“this setting could have been made for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Tatty Hennessy born to direct”

 

Stepping into a normally locked, private garden a few long days after the Summer Solstice is the perfect entry to Shakespeare’s fantastic interplay of human passions and fairy spells. Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens supplies a cluster of trees and shrubs, to be adorned with bunting and soft lighting and it’s not long before this Shakespeare in the Squares production transports you sufficiently to block out the Notting Hill noise beyond the hedge.

This is Tatty Hennessy’s third production with the company, her last being a 1970s Music Festival setting for As you Like It, an interpretation that played better than most because it followed the cultural, fashion and musical spirit of the work rather than indulging a historical theory. Indeed, the idea of a 1920s Midsummer Night’s Dream initially suggests some convoluted connection being made, between two eras of post-war fallout. Thankfully, it is again the decade’s cultural resonances that are reflected, with costume (Emma Lindsey) and music (Richard Baker) bringing out the play’s themes of attraction, love, magic and bacchanalia with effortless aptness. The aesthetics of burlesque and 1920s Music Hall are a fine fit for the lusts and jealousies of Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena, just as suited to the Mechanicals’ ham-fisted style of entertainment and afford the fairy characters a louche, decadent manner whether carelessly casting spells or settling back with popcorn to enjoy the emotional carnage they’ve caused.

The casting for this troupe of players, most of whom must double up as musicians and singers as well as other characters, is a triumph of talent logistics. Paul Giddings trisects Theseus, Oberon and Quince, bringing a quizzical authority that plays differently but superbly to each. Gemma Barnett’s combination of delicacy and bravery works as well to fair Hermia as to the Fairy as to Snug’s hilariously pathetic lion. Yet the versatility comes with no loss of individual stamp as Hannah Sinclair Robinson elevates Helena to a point where she competes for notional title of Comedy Lead with James Tobin’s left eyebrow, which cocks winningly as it brings some drag queen insouciance to Puck.

Ensemble playing is hearty and energetic with the cast’s movement (Yarit Dor) reaching into and around the audience, enhanced by the cast’s ad libs and some witty design details (Emily Stuart with Eleanor Tipler). If sometimes laughs are pursued too ardently it’s an understandable side-effect of the show’s mission to help even a child in the back row enjoy Shakespeare.

Finding new ways to access Shakespeare never grows old and, aside from the Portaloos and sirens, this setting could have been made for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Tatty Hennessy born to direct.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by James Miller

 


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Various London Squares and Gardens until 11th July

 

Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Fool Britannia | ★★★ | The Vaults | January 2019
Cheating Death | ★★ | Cockpit Theatre | February 2019
The South Afreakins | ★★★★★ | The Space | February 2019
Tobacco Road | ★★★★ | Network Theatre | February 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | The Vaults | March 2019
Butterfly Powder: A Very Modern Play | ★★★★ | Rosemary Branch Theatre | April 2019
The Fatal Eggs | ★★★★★ | Barons Court Theatre | April 2019
Tony’s Last Tape | ★★★★ | Omnibus Theatre | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | The Bunker | May 2019
Much Ado About Not(h)Ing | ★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Review of Late Company – 4 Stars

Late Company

Late Company

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 24th August 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

“Late Company is a hard-hitting, gripping depiction of issues that are ever-present in modern society”

 

 

In the intimate space of Trafalgar Studios 2, Late Company opens with married couple, Debora and Michael Shaun-Hastings, making the final preparations in their dining room for what appears to be a dinner party, although the audience is unsure of the exact occasion. Following the arrival of Bill and Tamara Dermot and their teenage son, Curtis, it becomes clear that the Shaun-Hastings’ son, Joel, committed suicide following homophobic torment from his peers, including Curtis. This gathering is not your average dinner party, but an awkward chance for reconciliation and closure.

The discomfort of the situation is made clear from the start, with all actors playing this well, most notably Lisa Stevenson as Tamara Dermot, whose agitated, sometimes comedic, attempts at small talk are cut short when Lucy Robinson as Debora Shaun-Hastings exclaims “Let’s just start!”. What follows is the sharing of memories of Joel and his achievements. Michael shows off medals and certificates won by his son, whereas Debora presents, with fondness, “photos that capture him”- a painful, yet beautiful reflection of a mother’s love. The piece escalates dramatically from here, with emotion-fuelled outbursts and revelations about Joel and the part the internet and social media had to play in his ordeal.

Zahra Mansouri’s set is naturalistic and adds to the believability of the piece, as does her costume design. This, along with the intimacy of the space, allows you to be pulled in to the action and feel as though you are in the dining room with the two families.

Robinson portrays grieving mother Debora’s raw emotion excellently and her delivery of a letter written to Curtis, displaying her heartbreak, is a standout performance of the production. David Leopold’s Curtis captures teenage awkwardness extremely well. Initially reluctant to take part in the discussions and keeping largely quiet, he begins to show remorse as the production progresses, culminating in a very effective closing sequence.

Director Michael Yale’s production is exceptionally well acted and the tension created from the themes of cyber- bullying, suicide and parental responsibility is, at times, broken by welcomed comic one-liners. Late Company is a hard-hitting, gripping depiction of issues that are ever-present in modern society and is greatly thought-provoking.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Alastair Muir

 

 

LATE COMPANY

is at Trafalgar Studios until 16th September

 

 

Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com