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A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare's enchanted comedy.
OFS Studio, Tue 17th - Sat 28th July, 2007.

July 25, 2007
This is the third production of the Dream to open in Oxford this summer. We have one more to go with a future visit in October. It is just one of those things that the theatregoing public has to endure (or enjoy) every so often. (I remember, not so long ago, when we had six productions of Twelfth Night in Oxford!)

The current show at the OFS stands out as being the first one of the year to take place within a theatre rather than outdoors. The company do make full use of the space - indeed, they fully exploit aspects of the studio space that most companies would ignore. For this they must be congratulated.

Speaking Shakespeare is a skill – luckily one that can be acquired. Unfortunately the cast were not all equally at home with the text. Leopold Hughes and Christopher Andrew North (as Oberon and Puck respectively) stood out amongst the menfolk for their ability with the verse, whilst also having good onstage chemistry and physicality. Daniel Green had great energy and humour in his dual roles of Lysander and Bottom. My companion for the evening did not spot that he was doubling – a credit to his performance.

The ladies of the cast were less polished than their male counterparts, and though Gina Abolins (Helena) had some good moments, overall the female actors did find the OFS acoustic rather troublesome.

Visually, there were a number of good ideas going on – but they were not all followed through to their fullest potential. There were a number of ladders on the stage – but they were woefully under-used. A lot of the detailed work on the costumes was lost due to the rather dark lighting scheme.

I was troubled by some of the sound design – the music was all too loud (and not always related well to the action or mood) and the off-stage voices were not properly balanced to create the necessary feeling of reality.

I am loath to be too harsh on a young and energetic company of actors. This is not a bad production, but it could have done with a little more polish to lift it above the ordinary.
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