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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – The Savill Garden, Windsor.

watchyourhead-20150622023223380An amble through the glorious splendor of Windsor’s Savill Garden, for the immersive version of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, makes plain that this is quite possibly the perfect environment in which to experience the rich beauty of Shakespeare’s comedy.

For the unacquainted, this is a tale where two suitors, Lysander (played by Jared Garfield) and Demetrius (played by Edward Firth) collide for Hermia’s (Sara Langridge) hand in marriage, while Helena’s (Paige Round) affections for Demetrius go unrequited. In a parallel plot, a scheming Oberon (Jack Bannel), the king of the fairies, wishes to punish his queen, Titania (Anneli Page), for her disobedience in failing to pass over her Indian changeling for use as his henchman. Oberon instructs his mischievous cohort Puck (Joss Wyre) to apply the potion ‘love-in-idleness’ to Titania’s sleeping eyes. The magical juice, created by a fire from Cupid’s arrow that turns a white flower to purple, ensures that the infected falls madly in love with the first thing that they clap their eyes on once awakened. Although intended for Titania, Puck’s incompetency, willing or otherwise, ensures that things go desperately awry.

William’s wit and pithy punch lines resonate through this versatile company of actors. Not only are these consummate performers of a dramatic regale, both individually and collectively, they are each equally adept at playing a number of different musical instruments. The work undertaken by musical director Bruno Major has ensured that a beguiling 1920s jazz-infused score accompanies the fantastical exploits of a famously farcical script.

The definition of this production is that it is ‘immersive’. Yet, there is no truly direct, personal interaction – so, can it really be called ‘immersive’? Expectations of the experimentally-inclined irreverent should be lowered: while there is a degree of toying with the source, abuse of the material would be sacrilege to those purists wishing to have an authentic application of the master’s script. Therefore, those who want to keep the sacred, sacred, and also those looking for a fresh injection will find a delicate compromise of the most charming variety. The best of both worlds has been conjured by the creative faculties of this team. Audiences are transposed to another place and time entirely, where only the intermittent and unavoidable interruptions from the prevailing flight path overhead can shatter the illusion. This is outside of the company’s control, however, and all that lies within their control is expertly commandeered and charmingly conveyed.

There is bonhomie aplenty on offer, as translated infectiously through the twinkle emanating from the eyes’ of the cast. This is only enhanced by the plot strand involving the fictional theatre troupe, the Mechanicals, putting on a shambolic play; each constituent part is an absolute joy to behold.

Watch Your Head production company’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an itinerant journey, one that leads ticket-holders on a merry wander through the grounds, prompting wide-eyed wonder and broad smiles in the process. This is a window into a magical kingdom; out of time, yet also timeless, and thoroughly in favour.

Word deserves to be spread about a unique piece of Shakespearean theatre and a thoroughly memorable night out. Those who attend will be enchanted with symptoms that may well feel as though they themselves have been struck by the wicked potency of love-in-ildleness.

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Reviewed 26/06/2015

By Greg Wetherall

24th June – 19th July 2015
The Savill Garden, Windsor, TW20 0XN.

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