Thursday, September 28

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Opera Holland Park

Warm weather, love and magic are everywhere in the summer. And we can share a piece of that magic in this entertaining comedy, plus the beautiful music that will come with it.

Figure, the historical performance ensemble, brings to life this classic written by Willian Shakespeare and with the music of Felix Mendelssohn. Directed by Sam Rayner, and Musical Direction of Frederick Waxman, this famous story is set on the stage in the Opera Holland Park. The play follows the story of the four lovers, played by Johan Munir as Demetrius, Eleanor Sutton as Helena, Emmanuel Olusanya as Lysander, and Hannah Rose Caton, and the ensemble of actors with Jay Mailer as Bottom, Gail Sixsmith as Quince, Jordan Laviniere as Flute, Susie Coutts as Snout, William Eden as Snug, and Joyce Henderson as Starveling. The cast is completed with Ray Fearon as Oberon and Theseus, Anna Leong Brophy as Titania and Hyppolita, and Joelle Taylor as Puck and Philostrate.

For those who don’t know the story, Helena loves Demetrius, who in turn wants to marry Hermia, who is in love with Lysander, who loves her back. Simultaneously, the ensemble of actors is preparing a play for the wedding of the king and the queen. Finally, a quarrel between the rulers of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, causes unrest in the realm and un-balance in the forces of nature. All the problems and fun situations coming out of these issues become entangled masterfully throughout the play.

The set design, by Edward Saunders, is simple and straightforward, with silks that fall into the floor of the stage and are entangled and unentangled by the actors to indicate the changes in scenes or the forest. They look well and become obvious and interesting hurdles for the characters, though at some point the changes become slightly predictable.

The performances are well led by the actors, although the four lovers seem more eager to fight than passionate for each other. The huge space of the stage, surrounding the orchestra, invited for beautiful chases and fights that were well seized most of the times.

Noteworthy highlights are the performance of Leong Brophy as Titania, and the group performance during the play of Pyramus and Thisbe. Leong Brophy appears majestic and supple. The troupe of actors, who individually do not necessarily stand out during the play, provide with a truly magic version of the play inside the play.

Finally, the music by Mendelssohn is beautifully rendered by the orchestra, performing on instruments modelled on those used in 19-century performances of the composer´s music. In the sung roles of this version, Rowan Pierce performs as the First Fairy, and Madison Nona plays the Second Fairy.

A beautiful timeless classic, this historical representation plays to the safe places that the text and the music provide.

Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana

Reviewed: 29th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.