Pros: An energetic and comedic performance.
Cons: Sometimes the rushed delivery meant it was hard to understand what was being said.
The Lazarus Theatre Company have delivered another piece of excellence.
On entry, the minimalist set presents an intriguing giant balloon moon plus a trestle table and chairs. Unfortunately on this night there was a late start and whilst sitting waiting, the background music of military-like drumming on a loop did get quite irritating – a one off hopefully. Whilst on the subject of the music, the songs during the play were first-rate. They were catchy, fun, fitted in so well and suited the voices of the cast.
Lighting transformed the stage into various locations and the use of a small number of props was simple and ingenious. I particularly liked the cumulative use of the colourful fairy dust with a running joke about it appearing in unexpected places, made possible by some performers playing more than one character. Costumes consisted of bare feet and modern clothes for the most part, the fairy king and queen and Puck looking slightly different. I should also mention the good use of makeup. All told, the understated and unfussy production emphasised the quality of the performance.
The cast were all so good it is difficult to pick out particular performances for mention. One criticism though, occasionally some of the actors seemed to be in such a hurry to get their words out it was difficult to understand them. Nerves possibly? I am sure that will be ironed out as the days go by. Lanre Danmola as Theseus/Oberon was the main culprit for the lack of clear diction, but made up for it with his regal bearing and facial expressions as King Oberon when listening in on the humans.
The Mechanicals were obviously all enjoying themselves and nailed the comedy. Ingvild Lakou was a beautiful and haughty Queen Titania and I have to make special mention of Tessa Carmody as Puck/Snug. Her slight figure suddenly rushing off to carry out whatever mischief had been decided upon as Puck was a complete contrast to the sluggish and bewildered Snug. I apologise for not listing everybody – no room.
Lazarus are a not-for-profit company aiming to re-examine and energise classic texts, celebrating artists from all backgrounds and experiences with an emphasis on ensemble working. This is the last offering of their season at Greenwich Theatre. Funny, energetic, visually appealing and coming in at just under two hours it certainly lived up to the claim of “. . . a fantastic introduction to Shakespeare. . . .”. The blurb also boasts puppetry, which was effective, but don’t build up expectations of a War Horse type experience.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is such a well known play it must be difficult to come up with fresh ideas on how to present it. Lazarus have managed to do so here, making it modern, relevant, accessible and most importantly, funny. It is a bit of a a summer staple, and with the temperature forecasted to rise over the next week or so I recommend making your way to Greenwich one evening to catch this production.
Author: William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by: Ricky Dukes
New Songs: Bobby Locke
Producer: Lazarus Theatre Company
Booking Until: 26 May 2018
Box Office: 020 8858 7755
Booking Link: https://www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk/events/midsummer-nights-dream