Your Views: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Rose Theatre, Kingston

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Last night I joined Peter Hall, Jeremy Paxman, Samuel West* and Melvyn Bragg (among other celebs and lots of happy civilians) in the audience at A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

This was the opening night of a much-anticipated show, directed by Peter Hall, and starring Judi Dench as Titania, Queen of the Fairies. A winning partnership, Hall and Dench first did this show some 38 years ago.

Played on a dark, black stage with few props, this is a traditional-dress production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with lots of stars in the cast. Diana Rigg’s daughter (Rachael Stirling) plays Helena, one of the lovers, alongside sexy Ben Mansfield from Primeval. Oliver Chris gets lots of laughs as Bottom, and wears the most gorgeous, realistic donkey head we’ve ever seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We asked one of the many families in the audience for their views:

Susan, mum:
I thought it was beautiful. The costumes were wonderful. I’ve never seen it done in traditional dress, and I loved it. I’ve seen it with hippies, or modern, or whatnot, but not in period like this. It’s excellent.

Joe, 12:
I really liked Oliver Chris, the guy from Green Wing, as Bottom. He was really funny.

Hannah, 15:
It was excellent. I really liked all of it, the mechanicals especially. Oberon and Puck were great too.

Peter, dad:
It was fantastic, just as Shakespeare should be done: bare stage, a few props, just the words. You could hear every word, the speaking and acting was fantastic. I’m not sure Judi Dench added much: she just wafted in, spoke beautifully, and wafted out, but it didn’t matter.

I wasn’t sure about having the old Titania either, but she was lovely, and she speaks beautifully. It was a fantastic show.

Have you seen this new A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at the Rose Theatre until 20 March

[*UPDATE:  as pointed out in the comments below, it was Timothy West, not his son Sam I saw in the crowd. Sam was obviously otherwise engaged, on stage, in Enron.]


  1. easilybored says:

    My friend saw it and basically said that it lacked spark and imagination – why would you do something as stunning as MND on a dark black set?!? Doh. everyone just came on and did their lines nicely and went off again. I’d rather see some lively shakespear at the globe.

  2. Samuel West says:

    Much as I would love to have been there, I’m afraid Ms Griffiths is mistaken – I was onstage doing Enron at the time. My dad I think was there – perhaps you meant him? Cheers, Sam.

    • Zoe J. Griffiths says:

      Hey Sam,

      So sorry! Pleased to know you’re reading the blog. I gave your dad a big grin, but obviously had you on the brain while I was writing this! Perhaps you’ll get a night off soon, and be able to catch this Midsummer Night’s Dream before it closes in March.

      (Love Enron, by the way. What a play.)

  3. amethyst says:

    A magical, magnificent and riveting production. A crowd pleaser for all ages; definite must-see theatre – if you can get a ticket!