Tag Archives: Emma Farnell-Watson

A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Alexandra Palace

A Midsummer Nights Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Alexandra Palace

Reviewed – 7th September 2019



“a fun, playful and atmospheric take on Shakespeare’s comedy”


Hot on the heels of their previous innovative takes on Shakespeare, Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras of RIFT have taken the playwright’s greatest comedy and shoved it into the moody, atmospheric depths of the Alexandra Palace basement. Rarely opened to the public, this is a unique opportunity, and the RIFT team draw on the building’s history as the location for the first public television broadcast in 1936. Cradled by the BBC tower, the setting might be worth the ticket price alone.

Framing the story using this televisual theme, Egeus (Rob Myles) becomes Hermia’s (Dewi Sarginson) “agent”, a witty alteration that reminds you of the overwhelming power of contracts, and powerlessness actors can have in the working world. Escaping the world of cameras and lights with her lover Lysander, the two escape into the woods, followed swiftly by Demetrius and Helena. But as we all know, the course of true love never did run smooth.

The concept leaves you always wanting more. Just three rooms are used, with the audience plodding between them, at times unsure of the reason. Although it would have been a real treat to explore more of the nooks and crannies of the building, most of the action takes place in one long room, framed with two screens. Sat on upturned buckets, the audience become a fun plaything for the actors, and the odd audience-interaction went down a treat.

Some nice doubling sees Myles, energetic and playful, playing Puck as well as Egeus, two characters in thrall to the authority of Oberon/Theseus (Mike Adams). Hilary McCool’s costumes and some eerily incandescent 1930s music set the scene well, and it is fun seeing country shirts and corduroy pants get slowly dustier and dustier as the show goes on. The lovers really get going in the hilarious scene that sees Lysander (Ben Teare) and Demetrius (Sam Ducane) fighting over a baffled Helena (Phoebe Naughton), but they are overshadowed by the Mechanicals, who, as ever, steal the show. Penelope Maynard as Peter Quince is pedantic and grounded, and Henry Maynard, whose background in clowning is written all over his Bottom, booms and thunders his way through his greatest acting moment, playing to hilarious effect for the cameras as much as for the live audience.

All in all, it’s a bumpy ride both literally and thematically, but this turns out to be a fun, playful and atmospheric take on Shakespeare’s comedy. With exposed brick and dusty floor, hopefully this won’t be the last time theatre is brought to this wonderful location.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Lloyd Winters


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Alexandra Palace until 28th September


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Horrible Christmas | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Loyal Company | ★★★★ | June 2019


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Review of Waves – 3 Stars



Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 21st November 2017


“Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement”


When entering the auditorium for Waves, you are greeted by the gentle sounds of a sitar and tabla (a type of classical Indian drum) being played by musicians sat either side of the dimly lit stage. Individual spotlights shine on the musicians, with a third reserved in the centre of the stage for a rope hanging eerily above. The sounds of the instruments reverberate beautifully around the small, circular stalls and a light haze creates a rippling effect as it passes through the lights.

This mystical scene is set for Rasa, performed by aerialist Gisele Edwards. Edwards ascends the rope so nimbly and steadily that at times it looks as if she is being drawn up by some spirit, rather than her own strength. The piece is layered with beautiful extensions and suspensions, but peaks when she starts to writhe erratically at the top of the rope. The drumming becomes increasingly unsettling until Edwards lets go from her inverted position for a death drop, falling to mere inches off the floor. The piece is captivating, with Edwards and her accompanists (Clem Alford, Sitar and Sirishkumar Manji, Tabla) singing and speaking intermittently throughout, to pay homage to India’s philosophy and religion.

The second piece in this evening of new dance, is S/He. Choreographed and performed by Kirill Burlov with Emma Farnell-Watson. It is billed as ‘exploring the ways in which gender roles are shifting and being dismantled’. The first of three distinct sections sees Burlov drag Farnell-Watson,  dressed in a corset and hooped skirt, limply onto the stage to what sounded like a 1930s cabaret tune. After spending some time posing her as he pleases, the music flips to a minimal, electronic bass as Farnell-Watson is awakened, only to have Burlov then change into the same clothes as her as if to portray that man and woman are now equal. The choreography felt uninspired and Burlov’s continued hogging of the spotlight jarred with the supposed message of the piece. Things got weirder when the mood switched again, with Farnell-Watson folded in half, face covered by her skirt and kicking her legs around whilst Burlov skipped around the stage. Both dancers are evidently technically talented, unfortunately S/He’s lack of a cohesive theme let them down.

Waves finished with the strongest piece of the night, Duende with Dickson Mbi. Having choreographed, devised the lighting concept and edited the music, Mbi’s connection with the piece is tangible. Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement; there was a moment when just the sinews in his shoulder rippled to the music. Mbi’s presence commands the stage but can at times be hauntingly tender. Duende is an embodiment of the spirit of dance and Mbi performs it with an intensity that flows right to the tips of his fingers. Duende received the nights only standing ovation which was rightly deserved.

Waves had it’s crests and falls, but the highs were definitely worth the ride.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward





is at Print Room at the Coronet until 23rd November as part of the Coronet International Festival




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