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:
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.
I really liked Oliver Chris, the guy from Green Wing, as Bottom. He was really funny.
It was excellent. I really liked all of it, the mechanicals especially. Oberon and Puck were great too.
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.]