Thursday, September 28

Electric Dreams – Norton Priory

I was very excited to be invited to the opening night and start of PRIDE week activities in Halton, Cheshire for the eclectic take on Shakespeare’s fantasy tale “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that was being performed by local young talent A “A Place for us Theatre Company CIC” in the holy ground of the remains the 12th century Norton Priory.  To such deliver such a wonderful love story in such an amazing sacred space was the ingenious idea of Kate Allerston & Chris Bastock -Artistic Directors of Norton Priory Theatre Spaces who worked in partnership with Norton Priory Museum & Gardens and “A Place for Us Theatre Company CIC” for this unique experience. Thankfully the storm that had drenched everyone earlier in the day, had now subsided and the evening was sunny and bright just as the show commenced. 

I was delighted to see that the cast’s changing rooms were in fact the catacombs of the 12th century Priory – it was so surreal – just as the play was – this was so fitting.  The audience were invited to sit in the ground s of this ancient building to bring a picnic and to absorb the ambiance of what was to be, such a unique theatre spectacular. It was day one of a week to celebrate PRIDE and also the works of the great playwright and what a way to celebrate this!

The grounds were full when the young actors entered the stage, Kate welcomed us all to this unique event and explained that if the horrendous storms returned that we would all take shelter in the priory main building. Although the audience were grateful for this, we all are waiting in anticipation and hoped that the balmy weather would remain – which it did. 

The performers gave a great enactment whilst embedding classic 80’s hits such as-“Juke Box Hero”, “Girls just wanna have fun”, “Tainted love”,  “Total eclipse of the heart”, “Sweet Dreams”, “It’s raining men”, “Sweet child of mine” and “Temptation”-  to name but a few, as they skilfully portrayed the story of four young lovers and a group of oddball actors who find themselves entranced and entrapped in an enchanted forest where Rock Diva Fairies rule and a mischievous sprite is hell bent on causing havoc. 

The story was portrayed in a modern and transformational way and throughout the performance there were great comical scenes -Adam Perot played Bottom wonderfully, who throughout the magical tom foolery becomes an ass – making everyone howl with laughter. Scenes of pure magic played by the enigmatic and talented fairies Theseus/Oberon – Colin Kiyani and Hippolyta/Titania – Jenna Sian O’Hara. A great portrayal of the star struck lovers Lysandra, Hermia, Helena and Demetrius played brilliantly by Jessica Tierney, Libby Marshall, Lucy Hilditch and Joe Gaffney.  It all just ‘worked”, and the music fitted in effortlessly into each scene, the cast jelled like a great cast do and it was highly enjoyable. 

The actors flung themselves into the area space interacting with the audience – having a member join them near the end to play ‘the moon’- great call! The audience clapped and sang and laughed and cheered as hit after hit ignited their memories of the era of synthesizers and wacky hairdos and the music fitted in effortlessly. The 20-minute interval gave the audience chance for refreshments and to walk around the remains of the priory and see the exhibitions, which again reinforced this one-time opportunity to embed decades of history.  The storm had impacted on the sound system a little and this did cause some technical issues, but the band and cast played on regardless and this did not impact on the enjoyment of this wonderful show.

Come to the priory to see this unique portrayal of love and magic spells, of pop music and mayhem – you won’t be disappointed!

A great show in a unique venue – a summer feast of pride!

Come along and celebrate the spectacular musical theatre event of the summer. It’s a kinda magic! Tickets are priced at £15 for adults, £12 for children and £45 for a family of four (two adults and two children). Playing till 15th July. Show starts at 8pm.

Please note: this is an outdoor event, so you’re welcome to bring chairs and / or picnic blankets to sit on for the performance.

Reviewer: Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 9th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.