Tuesday, August 16

A Midsummer Night’s Dream(ish) – International Anthony Burgess Foundation

It is not often that a reviewer becomes part of the show but that is what happened to me as part of this entertaining, engaging and extremely fun one-woman re-telling of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy.

Your humble scribe was plucked out of the audience to play a wall. It took all my theatrical skill to stand on stage holding a plastic brick and it would not be correct to comment on my own performance but the other audience members who were chosen to appear on stage with me were all excellent.

Yet, the real energetic, frenetic and comic star of the show was Abey Bradbury. She wrote and performed this whistle-stop tour through the Bard’s classic play with such verve and sheer pizazz it was a joy to behold. Her playfulness and obvious love of clowning were such a treat she really brought the play to life.

The set-up is that the tour bus has got lost in North Wales amidst Sheep and Badgers. She has been sent on ahead and decides to put on the show for us anyway. Fortunately, she just happens to have a number of props, hats and a guitar on stage which she can use to tell the story.

She cleverly uses Shakespeare’s play as the framework around which to build her wonderfully silly show and her sheer liveliness carries the audience along with her. Everything whizzes along at great pace, and it is wonderfully un-slick, as it would be if someone was performing the play ad-hoc. Although, beneath all the fun and frolics there is some serious theatrical skill and a great sense of timing.

Interspersed into the action are a number of songs and she even got away with singing a bit of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful. At one point the strap on her guitar came off and as a natural comedian she managed to get a laugh out of the incident.

The audience were willing to go with her as she asked them to sing along and get involved in the play. She did point out it was advertised as being ‘interactive’ but I think everyone was happy to join in because they bought into exactly what she was trying to do. Abey has such charisma as a performer they were keen to be part of the show.

I have seen many one-person shows in my time and if the performer is unable to get the audience on their side, then it can be a very uncomfortable hour for everyone. Right from the start you could feel she had everyone’s support which made the evening so much fun.

A great show but unfortunately it is the only night she is performing it as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe. When I spoke to Abey afterwards, she pointed out, as it is a one-woman show, she can put it on anywhere.

She is Head Loon at Cream Faced Loons and for more about them go to www.creamfacedloons.co.uk

The Greater Manchester Fringe continues till the end of the month and for information on other shows go to – https://greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

Reviewer: Adam Williams

Reviewed: 13th July 2022

North West End Rating: ★★★★

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