A Midsummer Night's Dream, Norwich

Shakespeare's company performed it with an all-male cast: UEA's Drama Sector played it with a (nearly) all-female cast – a Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that can bear an infinite variety of treatments.

Shakespeare's company performed it with an all-male cast: UEA's Drama Sector played it with a (nearly) all-female cast – a Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that can bear an infinite variety of treatments.

This production, at the UEA Drama Studio, challenged many of the familiar ideas about the play.

Oberon, Titania and the fairies all wore black, not a child in sight; Bottom had a mellow American accent; the lovers Dimitrius and Lysander were played by two women, and Puck was played by two actors. The mechanicals of Athens were dressed as the university maintenance staff.

On a stark, bare stage, the young actors created the court and the wood of Athens with no more than the odd prop and sound effect – and of course the words of Shakespeare.


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The success of the production lay in the powerful and clear verse speaking of the whole cast.

Suzanne Ahmet as Hermia underlined the plight of a character deserted in the wood and, together with Helena (Clea Bartley), became the centre of the action.

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The two Pucks added mystery to that character, and Titania (Sophie Fry) suggested the sensuous charm of the fairy world that made her love scene with Bottom all the more powerful.

The production lacked a little vitality: it sometimes failed, but Kate MacLean directed the production with authority.

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