This is a slightly different adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Tomahawk Theatre: but it kind of works. The great thing about this play is that you can draw out different aspects depending on the strengths of your cast. For Tomahawk this means brilliant physicality, camp comedy and a sort of so-tacky-its brilliant, off-kilter interpretation.The split between mortals and magical sprites is cleanly portrayed through costumes of floating white and haunting black. Peaseblossom and Cobweb are in dramatic 80s wear, with hair and makeup to match, while their queen Titania is allowed a little gold lame to set off her majesty. Oberon, on the other hand, brings the steampunk with his curling, thin moustache and top hat.
While unsettling at first, this stylisation comes to work rather well as the mystical scenes become unusually sinister and cruel. Certainly this idea is in Shakespeare’s writing but it’s not often brought out with such a demonic twinkle. And special mention has to go to Puck (who owes a hat-tip to A Clockwork Orange in his presentation), who leaps, cartwheels and backflips through his scenes while screeching and squeaking his lines like a true jester.In the world of the humans, who serve as the fairies' playthings, there is a little more traditional Shakespearean fare. Edwardian costumes give the impression of courtly tradition and respectable young maidens. Lysander is great, really bringing out the cheeky charm and Helena has a knack for Shakespeare’s comedy timing.
Attention must also be paid to Bottom, the unwitting second jester of the play. Again, Tomahawk’s actor played this role with energy and a total willingness to fall into the absurdity and ridiculous pomposity of the character. In fact, the whole cast of the play-within-a-play seemed wonderfully willing to make total fools of themselves in the service of comedy.The music was a little odd at times, with synth-style guitar indicating moments of magic. It was very metal and although it worked with the tacky, 80s vibe of the forest scenes, sometimes it jarred a little too hard.
Sadly, it was raining the evening I reviewed this, so I saw it in a rather cramped church hall, rather than the much better outdoor setting of the Oxford Castle, but even with those limitations, I definitely enjoyed myself.