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A Midsummer Night’s Dream review at Jack Studio Theatre, London – ‘delightful’

Wildcard's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Jack Studio Theatre, London

In this summer of Dreams, Wildcard’s take is not overloaded with gimmickry, instead relying on solid characterisation and physicality to wring laughs from the script. Here, the Mechanicals are members of a Mumford-light band, wearing T-shirts of their idols (androgynous Bowie for Flute, Pink Floyd’s The Wall for Snout – you get the picture) at a bash to celebrate the Duke’s approaching nuptials before leafy fronds fall from the ceiling and a mad night in the fairy-lit forest ensues.

While Rhiannon Sommers’ Titania is a model of fiery defiance, Abi McLoughlin lends stern, pragmatic authority to Oberon (as she does Theseus). James Mear’s topless, glitter-spangled Puck daintily strums spells to do his master’s bidding, each spellbound victim bathed in purple light.

The young lovers are a delight throughout: grungy Lysander (Joshua Leese) and Hermia (Natasha Killam) can hardly keep their hands off each other, while Molly Moody plays the oft-mocked Helena winningly. As shoes and accessories fly throughout the well-choreographed fight scenes, their overblown lovelorn angst fuels much mirth. One of the best gags goes to half-asleep poshboy Demetrius (Peter Dewhurst), who says: “These things seem small and undistinguishable,” before clutching at a member of the audience with the words: “Give my glasses back.”

Maimuna Memon’s music is central to many scenes, with instrumentalists among the cast accompanying songs and creating amusingly appropriate sound effects.

Though perhaps not the most innovative A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year, this does nothing to detract from the show’s exuberance, pace and wit.

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Delightful take on Shakespearean comedy that teems with witty characterisation and physical humour