The Queer Shakespeare Project’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s dream is an all singing, all dancing salute to the LGBTQ+ community, rehearsed and recorded entirely in lockdown. Thanks to these remote circumstances, the show, directed by Zach Waddington, features an international cast.
The play opens with overlapping dialogue led by Philostrate (Kit Foreman) which becomes an overwhelming blend of emotive language of which key words are only audible, setting the scene of a complex play with multiple storylines and characters.
Following this we meet Puck (Sadie O’Conor) whose costume and make up, together with filming location, stand out for their ethereal beauty within the show. Due to the circumstances of production, costume and setting does vary massively, but this glimpse into the vision that could have been shows the magic that exists within this well-loved Shakespearean comedy.
There are a number of musical performances which are well performed with some excellent choreography. The company deserve particular credit for creating synced performances in isolation, something which can be particularly difficult to rehearse remotely in light of technological limitations. The Fairy Lullaby, written and performed by Miranda Colby Browne, stands out as an especially enchanting piece.
The scenes have been put together using some clever video editing techniques which separates the play from much of the other online theatre which has been produced recently. Overall the cast have very good facial expression when someone else is speaking, something which is often missed in these types of performances.
Some subtle changes and additions to the script have created a number of Zoom jokes and wry references to technology which are very clever and will be appreciated by anyone who has experienced the frustrations of remote communication over the past few months.
Hermia (Lizzie Lawton), Lysander (Ray McCarthy) and Demetrius (Lott Lee) are all very good. Helena (Emily White) starts out with a lovely innocent quality which quickly rounds out into a much funnier and complex performance.
The Mechanicals provide the usual laughs with Flute (Jordan Bische) having particularly good expression and Quince (Vidhi Mehra) being ridiculously frantic as she tries to put together the lamentable Pyramus and Thisbe. The farcical performance of the tragedy stands out as a very funny part of the show, which particularly utilises the remote performance elements of the piece.
This show is an interesting reinterpretation of a classic play during which the company have clearly ad a great time in a fun and inclusive atmosphere. The script has been played with and interpreted to blend with the Company’s message and there are some elements of the piece which would be worthy of further development, including the special guest appearance from Donald Trump (Georgina Liley) and the relationship between Oberon (Sian Elisabeth Hatzenberg) and Titania (Mike Jenkinson-Deakin). As a debut show created in very difficult circumstances, it is clear that The Queer Shakespeare Project has a bright future to look forward to.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being streamed on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL0-yHdb5Fo
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 13th September 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★