Beaufort Players kept to a traditional rendering of one of Shakespeare’s best known and most performed plays. This fantastical production was staged in the church hall on a very hot sticky evening so the actors should be applauded for getting through this long piece.
The staging was very good, with an extended apron so we were in the centre of the action, and the backdrop was brilliantly painted in wonderful colours. The fairy bower with its chaise longue for Titania and Bottom to recline on was beautifully rendered.
The play opened with Egeus informing his daughter Hermia she cannot marry her lover, Lysander, whilst Helena declares she is in love the other suitor of Hermia, Demetrius. This was not the most confident opening scene but first-night nerves may have played a part (a feeling I know well!). Chris Burns as Egeus was a suitably annoyed father. Séin Ó Muineacháin presented a very good Theseus, Duke of Athens, and was confident in delivery of his lines. The role of his fiancée Hippolyta (Jayne Bowman) may not have had the largest speaking role but she also delivered the character well, and both actors presented themselves as a “loved-up” couple very nicely.
Amongst the young lovers, Gemma Robinson as Hermia and Craig McCrindle as Lysander made a very good couple. Both delivered their lines well and interacted nicely. Helena (Veronica O’Sullivan) and Thomas Cobb (Demetrius) had the harder job of having to hate each other, then fall in love. They did this fairly well, though sometimes the lines from Veronica were not as clear as they could have been, though I was very impressed with her long speech. The scene with Demetrius and Lysander both declaring love for Helena and fighting was most amusing and very well performed.
We were next introduced to the “rude mechanicals”. I was very impressed with Matthew Tylianakis as Nick Bottom, who had the job of transforming into an ass. He did this very well and his comic timing was excellent. Chris Burns took a second role of Quince, and he seemed to me far more comfortable and confident in this role than that of Egeus. All the other actors (Russell Gillman, William Baldwin, Elaine O’Sullivan and June Burgess) performed their roles well and were appropriately bad in the Interlude scene.
Moving to the fairy bower, the 4 fairies were generally very good, though some stood out more than others. Amy Jackson was most excellent as Titania the Fairy Queen – and yes, I did get the Pulp Fiction reference. She was very sultry in character, and clear with her lines. Piers Garnham as Oberon was also very good, with a lovely deep voice, very well cast. I wasn’t entirely sure about the green hair as it went neon under the stage lights which was a little distracting, but his performance was great. The lion’s share of praise must go to Kate Martin as Puck, the mischievous sprite. She was fantastic in this role and bounced around the stage wonderfully, with great characterisation.
Overall the production was well paced, well staged and well performed. One minor point – on a few occasions a door banged backstage, presumably by accident. Noises off is something that must be avoided by the cast (unless scripted!).
A note must be said of the beautiful costumes. A couple of them were not quite in keeping and jarred with the others but overall they were very good, especially those of the fairies which were very colourful and decorative, and looked wonderful. Also, their face make up, especially Titania’s was brilliantly done.
Well done also to the sound and lighting crews, who kept up well and I spotted no obvious issues so trust everything went according to plan.
My congratulations to the Director, Jane Quill, Producers Tania Hunt and Alan Robinson, and all the backstage and front of house crew, and of course the cast for their hard work in an enjoyable production.