“there is little better to do than to sit in the fresh air and watch this ragtag group of actors put on a truly spectacular performance of one of Shakespeare’s classics”

CTC’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in a summer garden party fitting perfectly with the weather and the location of the castle’s fellow’s garden. This production was a wonderful reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic tale and was packed full of laughs, fun and tender moments.

First of all, I must commend the cast for their impressive ability to be heard by all audience members considering the outside space and the fact that they occasionally had to compete with planes and construction equipment. There were a few moments where projection was lost but overall this was barely even an issue. Due to the nature of the production, being performed outside and going on tour, props were limited to costumes, musical instruments, flowers and a clipboard. However, this didn’t matter as the cast’s physicality and wonderful direction by Eleanor Thornton, meant the audience was transported to Athens and immersed into the world without the need for big set pieces (apart from a lone bench) or dramatic props (although the toy dog was a personal favourite of mine). As well as this the costumes are all absolutely fabulous and if I’m being perfectly honest I want to steal every single one of  them, especially Puck’s shirt and Oberon’s trousers.

This cast were all wonderful. First with the snarky and witty chemistry between Oberon/Theseus (Orlando Riviere) and Titania/Hippolyta (Alexandra Hart) the stage was set and the tension between the two of them, whether they were on stage together or not, was apparent. Orlando’s stage presence and Alexandra’s formidable attitude made them a force to be reckoned with. It wouldn’t be Midsummer Night’s Dream without the third fairy, Puck, played by Rory Maguire. Rory was spectacularly cheeky, wonderfully funny and a breath of fresh air on what was a very hot afternoon in the sun. Rory and Orlando’s father/son, mentor/mentee relationship was also excellent.

Speaking of stage presence, Samuel Kingsley Jones was another phenomenal talent and, as both Egeus and Peter Quince, excellently captured the overbearing father and stressed out director (any resemblance to Ellie I wonder?) His singing accompanied by a chorus of kazoos was one of my favourite moments throughout. We then were introduced to Nick Bottom (Olly Stanton) who’s comedic timing is undeniable. His physicality and movement was compelling and he managed to get the audience on his side and had everyone laughing. 

You can tell how close this cast is and how well they work together but no one had more chemistry than Lysander (Jo Price) and Hermia (Eleanor Sumner). These two were the embodiment of the lovers trope, they worked together seamlessly while also getting their own rightfully deserved laughs from the audience. The lover’s quarrel was an excellently directed scene, as funny as it was quick paced and as dramatic as it was entertaining. Demetrius (Charles Moscrop) and Helena (Emilia Lewis) were also delightful to watch and had so much energy throughout. Charlie and Jo’s squabbling had me in stitches. These are some truly talented actors.

None of this wonderful show would have been possible without the tireless work of the creative team. Hats off to them, a tour is not an easy thing to pull off. Florence Lunnon, tour coordinator, this wonderful show is a testament to your hard work and dedication. Well done to producers Ayasha Nordiwan and Emily Phillips, for pulling this all together and for some excellent publicity (shoutout to Joyanne Chan for her excellent poster design). Special mention to Emily Phillips as well for also being musical director, every single musical interlude helped to pull the whole show together and create a wonderful vibe. And finally, a huge round of applause for Eleanor Thornton, director. The staging was excellent, the play within a play was so brilliantly handled and you have really pulled together a fantastic afternoon of Shakespeare. 

If you are looking for an afternoon of summer entertainment and joyous fun, there is little better to do than to sit in the fresh air and watch this ragtag group of actors put on a truly spectacular performance of one of Shakespeare’s classics. To everyone involved in this production, have fun on tour, we all here in Durham wish you the best. 

By Bethan Avery

Castle Tour’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is performing in Fellows Garden, Durham Castle, University College until the 15th June

Photo Credits: Castle Theatre Company