Theatre Review || The Pantaloons’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I’m feeling really guilty about this post.  I’ve been very lax .  It’s been well over a month since I saw The Pantaloons’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I haven’t written my review yet. My only excuse is that with our recent holiday and my return to work I have been very, very busy and really wanted to do it justice with a proper review, not something cobbled together in a few minutes.

It’s also been a really long time since I saw my last Pantaloon’s show.  I went to see The Canterbury Tales last summer, but I’ve not had the chance to see anything since. I was well overdue another show. I’m pretty sure I was getting withdrawal symptoms.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream really is the perfect summer play, especially when it’s performed outdoors.  I also decided this was the perfect show to take Miss Mess along for her first Pantaloons experience.  She already knows the story so I thought it would be a great introduction.

As usual with Pantaloons shows, there were five cast members who played all of the many roles in the play. First up were three of the “regulars”, who have been in every Pantaloons show I’ve seen so far – Alex Rivers, Kelly Griffiths and Edward Ferrow.  After four reviews, I am fast running out of ways to say how fabulous these lot are, but allow me to try anyway.

My absolute highlight of the entire show was Kelly and Alex in the Hermia/Helena fight scene.  This is probably one of my favourite scenes in the script anyway but it was brilliantly performed here by both ladies.  I was in stitches as they chased each other through the audience.

Probably my favourite character played by Edward was Thisbe, in the play within the play.  I’m not sure what it says about me that I always love it when Edward plays a woman (Mary in Pride & Prejudice springs to mind) but clearly he does it very well, so let’s have more of the same please.

It was great to see Christopher Smart again, after last seeing him play Mr Collins in Pride & Prejudice. I particularly loved his performance as Puck, which had some stunning monologues and really captured the spirit of play – even when faced with some rather “windy” interruptions.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Alex Hargreaves, a new face making his debut with The Pantaloons.  As you haven’t featured in one of these reviews before I should probably introduce myself.  My name is Stacey and I’ll be stalking you from now on.  Don’t worry, as the others will tell you I’m relatively harmless, if a little obsessive!  You’ll grow to love me, or at least recognise me so you can run in the opposite direction!

Joking aside, Alex was wonderful in all of his roles, but especially hilarious as Bottom, the hubristic weaver.  Whether he was evading Titania’s advances, boasting about his theatrical prowess, or just taking a really, really long time to die, Alex was hilarious and fit in perfectly with the rest of the cast.  I certainly hope to see more of him in future Pantaloons’ productions.

After watching a few shows by The Pantaloons, I’m no longer surprised by how much I enjoy them – that’s pretty standard now. What I did find really surprising with A Midsummer Night’s Dream was just how much actual Shakespeare was included.  I wouldn’t always recommend The Pantaloons for people who are precious about the source material.  They do tend to put their own spin on things, which is one of the reasons I love them so much.

However, this was genuinely a really solid version of Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It stuck to the original text far more that I would ever have anticipated.  It featured some incredibly versatile performances, demonstrating not only fabulous comedy but also some beautiful serious moments.

Of course the show had “The Pantaloons” touch with heaps of character, plenty of audience participation and ad-libbing.  There also appeared to be even more “food-theft” than normal which is always guaranteed to get a laugh.  I like to play “spot the first-timer” as you can usually tell if this is someone’s first Pantaloons’ show by how shocked they are when the cast start helping themselves to wine, beer and nibbles!

Sadly, due to me completely rubbish and taking forever to write this review, the tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has now ended and you can’t go and watch it.  So I sure hope you enjoyed reading about it!

Having said that, The Pantaloons will be on tour again next year with War of the Worlds and if all this sounded like something you might enjoy, I strongly advise you check out their website for more details.  Miss Mess absolutely loved her first ever Pantaloons experience, and I already have my orders to book tickets for her for next time.

Looks like we’ve found another Fantaloon!

 

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