The only puck I have ever had dealings with was the one that landed in my lap during my days as an avid follower of the Humberside Seahawks ice hockey team, in Hull.
In other words, I’m no fan of anything William Shakespeare wrote.
So, reviewing A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Bard was never going to be on my bucket list.
But, not one to shirk my theatre duty, I went along to the Hull Truck Theatre on Monday evening.
Well, bloomin’ ‘eck, as Shakespeare wouldn’t say, I really enjoyed watching a talented group from the community bring that very play to life.
The opening stage setting was very sparse, consisting of just a metal park bench. However, the most dazzling costumes soon emerged and from then on it was colour all the way. As well as the psychedelic costumes, fairy lights lit up the ceiling and heads of many of the cast, while luminous squiggly neon lights enhanced the dark backdrop.
Pre-show, I had Googled the story to get it straight in my head, and these local performers stuck to the script – well, apart from introducing very un-Shakespearean songs by the likes of Whitney Huston, Marvin Gaye, Boys II Men and Percy Sledge, at apt times during proceedings. But back to the story …
In an enchanted forest in Athens, Greece, the King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon (David Snowden) and Titania (Andrea Russell) are arguing, so the petulant King gets Puck the fairy (Livie Dalee) to drip a potion into the Queen’s eyes, so that the first person she sees upon waking will be the love of her life – man or beast.
Of course, it’s a beast – a donkey (Brian Hossack) – and their “lurve” antics are one of the funniest scenes of the night.
Meanwhile, young Hermia (Freya Noman) is being pressured by her father Egeus (Marion McGowan) to marry Demetrius (Fred Weeks). who, in turn, is being pursued by Helena (Erin Findlay). Hermia only has eyes for Lysander (Dmitri Colville).
So, the four skedaddle into the woods – right into Fairyland and mayhem.
Also in the woods are Bottom the Weaver (Brian Hossack) and his group of players, rehearsing a play for the upcoming wedding of the Duke, Theseus (Andrew Clark) to Hippolyta (Barbara Dvalin).
Oberon, witnessing Helena’s unrequited love for Demetrius, tasks Puck with dripping love drops into Demetrius’s sleeping eyes so when he awakes, hopefully, seeing Helena, he will fall instantly in love with her.
Unfortunately, she mistakenly drops them into Lysander’s eyes.
In Benny Hill-type chases, the four – Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia and Helena – run round in circles, both men believing they are in love with Helena, while in really amusing scenes, Hermia vents her wrath on Helena.
The players’ rehearsals are also a laugh-a-minute. All dressed in modern-day clothes, the antics of the aforementioned Hossack as Bottom, cause the most hilarity.
Well, as in that other comedy by the Bard, all’s well that ends well. It was all just a dream – or was it?
For over two hours these amateur thespians kept us thoroughly entertained. For the most part voices carried (Weeks could give Brian Blessed a run for his money), the singing was tuneful and the acting energetic.
Some lines were fluffed, but no matter. Everyone involved with this production did the Bard, the local community and themselves proud. Well done!
Running until Saturday, July 9th, 2022; 7.30pm nightly with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, 9th. Tickets cost from £10. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk
Directed by Tom Saunders
Producers: Adam Pownall, Zoe Walker
Recommended age 7+
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 4th July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★