Oliver Farnworth, Daniela Lavender & Robert
Click here for 2008
‘A triumph’ The Duke of
“Just wonderful - the actors know how
Shakespeare should be spoken” Imogen Stubbs
“Crisp, clear, outstanding. A wonderful show. A great performance” Sir
“The show was fabulous and fitted
beautifully into the venue” Marsha Fitzalan
Shakespeare bounded back into
the Arundel Festival with an outstanding production of A
Midsummer Night’s Dream in the perfect setting
of Arundel Castle’s new Collector
And the bard’s return to a festival which
was founded on his work 30 years ago was as successful as it was
welcome, after a three-year absence from Arundel.
Two sell-out nights, with audiences increased
to 800 for each performance after demand for the initial 500 tickets
was overwhelming, a well-deserved reward for a fine staging of
this mystical, magical comedy by the British Shakespeare Company.
Coming just a few years after a memorable Arundel
Festival production of the “Dream” by the outanding
Tour de Force company, this was a bold choice of play to bring
back, but any fears of unfavourable comparisons were quickly dispelled
by the quality of the acting.
Luminaries in the audience including Sir
Trevor Nunn, Imogen Stubbs and Sir
David Frost must have enjoyed their night beneath the
West Sussex sky, surrounded by palm trees, fountains and other
amazing structures in this remarkable garden, none more so than
Oberon’s Palace, the fabulous green oak tower inspired
by this very play.
All these features cast their own mysterious shadows
and added to the other-worldly realm of Shakespeare’s unfolding
story of fairies, spirits, moonlit assignations and dreamy hours
deep in the woodland.
The mischievous meddlings of king of the fairies
Oberon (David Davies) and his sidekick Puck (Richard
Morrison) compound the complex love lives of Helena (Catherine
Lake), Demetrius (Luciano Dodero), Hermia
(Jacqueline Wilder) and Lysander (Oliver
Farnworth), summed up by Lysander’s words to Hermia, “The
course of true love never did run smooth.”
Wilder and Lake were
particular strengths of a very good cast of 15. They lived the
parts, whether sharing the hopes and fears of young love, fighting
and even hair-pulling as rivals or pouring out their hearts to
the objects of their affection.
As if all this wasn’t confusing enough,
Shakespeare tosses in the bunch of bumpkin actors with their play-within-a-play
to entertain the guests at the forthcoming wedding of Theseus,
also played by David Davies, and Hippolyta (Daniela
Lavender, appearing as queen of the fairies Titania, too).
Barrie Palmer, Anthony
Acosta, Robert J Williamson, Kevin
Brannagan and Robert Crumpton were
in fine form as the bumbling “rude mechanicals”,
so much more than mere comic interlude, Williamson’s attention
to detail as director shining through in beautifully staged scenes.
Fairies Peaseblossom (Rebecca Wicking),
Mustard Seed (Elyon **that’s her name**)
and Cobweb (Amy Smith), and five-year-old Mackenzie
Rowswell as the Indian changeling child, completed the
The effects of the magical love potion dispensed
by Puck were, mercifully for the mortals, short-lived, but the
spell woven by this “Dream” will live long in the memories
of those fortunate enough to witness it.
And the word is that both the castle and this
excellent company are keen to mount a longer run next year to satisfy
ROGER GREEN , LITTLEHAMPTON GAZETTE
Open to all the Shakespearean
'The bard would have been well pleased with the location for
this most whimsical and light hearted play.
The garden in Arundel Castle - a tribute to Thomas Howard,
14th Earl of Arundel, nicknamed "The Collector" - provided
a magical and idyllic setting.
The centrepiece is the rockwork 'mountain'
planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world.
It also features a green oak version of Oberon's Palace, a fantastic
spectacle designed by Indigo Jones for Prince Henry's Masque
on New Year's Day 1611 - just five years after A
Midsummer Night's Dream was first presented.
Appearing as part of the Arundel Festival, The British Shakespeare
Company is second only in size and reputation to The Royal Shakespeare
Company and the largest outdoor performer of his work.
Part of the reason that Midsummer is one of his most popular
plays is its unique combination of farce, comedy, poetry and
The 15 actors caputured all these elements perfectly, within
the limitations that outdoor performance imposes.
There was nothing in the way of the special effects, lighting
and gimmicks that indoor interpretations often offer. However,
this did not detract from a joyous, humorous and physical rendition
which delighted the audience on a beautiful and peaceful evening.
The play contains some of Will's best soundbites,
course of true love never did run smooth" "Cheek by
Jowl" "the long and the short of it" and to "fall
out" (with each other).
The play itself is a typically convoluted comic love story,
which comes across occasionally as a medieval version of home
and away. Shakespeare probably sums it up best, when one of the
characters refers to "the pert and nimble spirit of mirth"
Brighton Argus 30.08.08
"The British Shakespeare
Company will set the new Collector Earl's
Garden alight with A Midsummer Night's Dream" The Guardian