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Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream by the RSC at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury

By Lisa Daniels

to the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, last night for the first of seven performances. magical Midsummer’s Night DreamThe Royal Shakespeare Company brought a

This 1940s-set production by the RSC’s deputy artistic director Erica Whyman has professional actors sharing the stage with amateurs playing the Mechanicals for the play-within-the-play and local children joining Queen of the Fairies Titania’s Fairy Train.

Actors from Canterbury Players and children from King Ethelbert School in Birchington were chosen for the Marlowe performances.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation with The Canterbury Players. Picture: Topher McGrillis
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation with The Canterbury Players. Picture: Topher McGrillis

Professionals and amateurs alike gave wonderful performances and worked so well together, especially given how little time they had to rehearse as a complete cast – they only came together properly this week – but two in particular deserve special mention.

The RSC’s Lucy Ellinson is an androgynous, top-hatted, Puck, who dances and darts all over the stage, with many an impish smile as her lord Oberon, King of the Fairies, meddles with the lives and love of young Athenians Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena.

Local schoolchildren were involved in the production. Picture: Topher McGrillis
Local schoolchildren were involved in the production. Picture: Topher McGrillis

And there’s a glorious, energetic and entertaining performance from the Canterbury Players’ Lisa Nightingale as Bottom, one of the six Mechanicals, who are rehearsing a play, Pyramus and Thisbe, to celebrate the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation with the Canterbury Players. Picture: Topher McGrillis
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation with the Canterbury Players. Picture: Topher McGrillis

The BBC is filming the tour for a programme The Best Bottoms in the Land, part of its Shakespeare Festival, marking the 400 anniversary of his death.

The RSC’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until Saturday, April 23. For tickets call 01227 787787 or visit www.marlowetheatre.com

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