Golden hour beams over the spectacle that is Kew Gardens, as the audience make their way towards the performance lawn. Families and friends gather, popping bottles of fizz, sharing out their homemade jam and taking in the ambience of the gardens. A wooden stage is waiting for its performers, accompanied by an impressive lighting rig, whilst everyone has the last bite of their picnics. I rhetorically kept asking myself ‘where better to bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream, than right here, right now?’.
The Australian Shakespeare Company are mellifluous, playful and animated when committing to Shakespeare’s script. I did find the comedic form was slightly blunted by the ambitious reach to be relevant with contemporary references (Covid, Harry and Megan and many others). The cast already brought laughter and entertainment from their interpretation of the original script and the modern twists felt slightly unnecessary for this adaptation. A worthy mention is to Fletcher O’Leary, who brought Puck’s fantastical and sprightly spirit to life, tumbling around the stage and sprinting through the gardens. Mohsen Ghaffari’s commitment to his role as Bottom and Egeus is undeniable, especially in the second half as he tries to amuse King Oberon, which the audience adored.
Peter Amesbury’s light design is the gift of this production. The actors hold the stage with poise and grace, then once the sun sets, the trees are projected with colour and flair, making the whole show that bit more magical. There is a limited set, because what else is needed in the midst of towering trees and a summer night. Whether this is your first experience of a Shakespeare play or another to add to the list, this production provides the perfect summer outing for family or friends.
It runs until 5 September. Tickets here.
Review: Isabelle Tyner