A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Even the most gifted designer would struggle to create a setting for Shakespeare’s sylvan fantasy half as stunning as the Savill Garden, a hidden arboreal treasure on the edge of Windsor Great Park.
Equipped with rugs, drinks and sensible shoes, the 50-strong audience is led up the garden path by fauns and fairies in human form, into a succession of tree-framed clearings where the familiar story of star-crossed lovers, rustic thespians and spell-binding sprites is unfolded at full volume by the young cast.
The lighting, like the scenery, is provided by nature, so don’t expect any pyrotechnics. This is two planks and a passion stuff, only with trees instead of planks.
Competing with squawking parakeets, chirruping moorhens and aeroplanes descending into Heathrow can’t be easy and the cast is sometimes reduced to shouting when they should be speaking, but there is a majestic turn from Jack Bannell’s brooding Oberon, sterling work by Oliver Lavery and George Jennings as Bottom and Quince, a spirited Titania from Anneli Page, and lots of leaping around from Joss Wyre’s pretty, athletic Puck.
The producer, Watch Your Head, call it immersive, and there was certainly a feeling of a shared experience in us all being in it together, actors and onlookers. It wasn’t the best acted Dream I’ve ever seen, but the weather was kind, and the natural beauty of the setting urged you to overlook any shortcomings in Sasha McMurray’s production.