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A Midsummer Night's Dream


One of the many joys of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the numerous opportunities it provides for ingenuity and extravagance. Director Mike Tweddle explores them to the furthest margins in this high-octane start to the Tobacco Factory Theatres’ repertory season.

Tweddle presents the Dream as a comedy about faltering human relationships, alongside an excursion into the, sometimes frightening, power of imagination. His strategy is to conjure up a dystopian world, underlining the tensions and social dangers of the times through the driving physical approach of the nine players.

This doesn’t always work. The poetry is largely abandoned, at times the production is disjointed; and the fight between the lovers in the wood (often a highlight) seems to last an eternity.

The relationship between the lovers becomes even more chaotic, yet also more evocative, with Lysander played as Lysanda (Evlyne Oyedokun) and Helena as Helenus (Joseph Tweedale), while Charleen Qwaye’s Titania is very much the driving force, if also a frustrated one, in her relationship with Luca Thompson’s Oberon. He is in thrall most of the time to Kim Heron’s anything-but-gentle Puck, who freewheels through just about every inch of Anna Reid’s strangely industrial set.

The impression of watching three separate plays – harsh court, scary pastoral, vengeful fairies – lessens as the production progresses, and the closing Pyramus and Thisbe playlet is a triumph of invention.

But Tweddle’s masterstroke is in casting Bristol theatre stalwart Heather Williams as Bottom. Herself a distinguished director, she gives a Victoria Wood-like masterclass in how to make a perfect ass of yourself.

Macbeth review at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol – ‘dynamic and imaginative’

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Production Details
Production nameA Midsummer Night's Dream
VenueBristol, Tobacco Factory Theatres
StartsFebruary 20, 2019
EndsApril 6, 2019
Running time2hrs 45mins
AuthorWlliam Shakespeare
DirectorMike Tweddle
Set designerAnna Reid
Lighting designerChris Swain
Sound designerMax Perryment
CastCharleen Qwaye, Dan Wheeler, Evlyne Oyedokun, Heather Williams, Joseph Tweedale, Kim Heron, Luca Thompson, Paksie Vernon
Production managerNic Prior
Stage managerEmily Hicks-Watkins
ProducerTobacco Factory Theatres
VerdictBold but only partially successful attempt to set Shakespeare’s comedy in a dystopian world
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Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

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