By Milan Perera, Deputy Editor
For many Shakespearean aficionados, St Werburghs City Farm is perhaps the most unusual choice of venues for a production of the Bard’s evergreen masterpiece. However, the rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Rambling Heart theatre collective with a dash of Halloween magic is a mercurial theatre piece of rare effervescence.
The Bristol-based theatre collective’s delightful and spooky reinterpretation of Shakespeare's classic, perfectly timed for Halloween, drew crowds of all ages. This imaginative production seamlessly blends the enchanting world of fairies, mischievous lovers, and bumbling actors with the eerie ambience of the holiday enhanced by the piercing cold winds and the darkness of the evening at the City Farm.
The production maintains the essence of Shakespeare's play while infusing it with a Halloween twist. The set design and costumes are beautifully crafted to capture the spirit of the season, with a mix of ethereal fairy costumes, masks and ghostly ensembles. The use of dim lighting and eerie sound effects add a mysterious and haunting atmosphere to the performance, making it a perfect treat for all ages.
One of the highlights of this interpretation is the way the cast skillfully embraces the mischievous and playful aspects of the original play while incorporating spooky elements. The misadventures of the lovers and the comical antics of the amateur actors are as entertaining as ever, but now with a ghostly twist that keeps the audience engaged and amused.
The talented actors bring depth to their characters, adding both humour and a touch of spookiness to the production. The chemistry between the characters, particularly the fairy king and queen, is a testament to the cast's dedication and skill. The cast members are no strangers to Bristol theatre lovers.
Harry Creffield who doubles up as Oberon and Lysander is ridiculously adept in his guitar skills and singing which makes the proceeding playful and mischievous. Creffield’s one-man production, I’m Actually Fine! at Alma Tavern Theatre was a soaring triumph exploring the frontiers of mental health and masculinity. And his latest project certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Polly Tisdall who plays the roles of both Bottom and Hermia previously vowed audiences with her set of Embers at Alma Tavern Theatre earlier this year with her mercurial storytelling. She brings her storytelling to full measure in these roles where her consummate skills shine through the roles like a dart of light through the dark evening.
Claire Rammelkamp as Helena and Titania is neatly cast as her skills as a stand-up comedian amplifies her delivery as effortless and seamless. The dialogues between her and Polly Tisdall are neatly executed with impeccable timing. It feels as if they are creating the scene as they go along with its spontaneity.
Stephanie Houtman as Puck and Mark Gillham as Demetrius are superb in their roles bolstered by their extensive experience in film and television which includes The Outlaws and This is the Nightmail respectively.
The interaction and interplay between the cast with the audience was both heartbreaking and charming. The interval was graced by King Oberon’s Best Costume competition over a glass of spiced apple juice. The unanimous winner was the young father from the front row who came dressed as Dumbledore with a surprisingly realistic beard.
This production truly appeals to all ages. Children and adults alike will be captivated by the whimsical and magical world of A Midsummer Night's Scream. It offers a unique blend of Shakespearean charm and Halloween fun, making it an excellent choice for a family night out during the spooky season.
A Midsummer Night's Scream! is a playful and enchanting interpretation of a classic Shakespearean comedy, perfectly tailored for Halloween. The Bristol-based theatre collective has succeeded in creating a captivating and entertaining experience that appeals to audiences of all ages, making it a must-see seasonal production with a touch of theatrical magic. We can only hope that they will bring it back for next Halloween!
Featured image: Milan Perera
Will you be attending a theatre event at St Werburghs City Farm this winter?