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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Effective revival”

In an age in which Britten’s take on Shakespeare can morph into a disquisition on paedophilia at directorial whim, Peter Hall’s celebrated production, first seen in 1981, risks seeming like a relic from a different age. That the show works so well in this revival says much about the skill of the original team in creating a magical realm in the service of the score, sufficient unto itself.

Aspects that were once innovative – the trees in constant movement and a forest design concept in blue-black and silver – remain striking, while unsuspected warmth and humanity is found in Britten’s score.

The Glyndebourne venue itself contributes not a little to the success of the evening, even if patrons take a while to settle during the druggy opening glissandi.

Back inside, the intimations of cruelty are never overplayed by a mostly experienced cast including veterans of the Met Opera’s 2013 revival and past participants in the present show.

Young David Evans is arguably the hero of the night. A late substitution as the non-singing, morally ambiguous Puck, he is strikingly confident and challengingly un-posh. Towering over him is counter-tenor Tim Mead’s well projected, suitably unearthly Oberon. Matthew Rose reprises his virile and booming Bottom.

It is not easy to make much of the human lovers, and Kate Royal’s vibrato is becoming the dominant feature of her Helena. Vocally speaking, Elizabeth DeShong’s Hermia fares better with a nice line in physical comedy.

The rustics’ play within a play represents Britten at his feeblest but, as throughout, the present team members give it their all. And Puck gets the last word.

Production Details
Production nameA Midsummer Night’s Dream
StartsAugust 11, 2016
EndsAugust 28, 2016
Running time4hrs 10mins
ComposerBenjamin Britten
DirectorPeter Hall, Lynne Hockney
ConductorJakub Hrusa
ChoreographerLynne Hockney
Set designerJohn Bury
Costume designerLiz Bury
Lighting designerPaul Pyant
Casting directorPal Moe
CastBenjamin Hulett, Duncan Rock, Elizabeth Deshong, Kate Royal, Kathleen Kim, Matthew Rose, Tim Mead
TechnicalEric Gautron, Penny White
Production managerTom Harrison
Company stage managerIan Jackson
Stage managerStephen Cowin
Head of lightingKeith Benson
Head of wardrobePauline Lecrass
Make-up artistSarah Piper
ProducerGlyndebourne Festival
VerdictNo surprises but a fine cast graces this effective revival of a durable classic
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