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Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Libretto: Shakespeare/Britten&Pears

Oberon – Tom Verney; Tytania – Eleanor Laugharne; Puck – Alexander Knox;
Lysander – Stuart Laing/Alexandros Tsilogiannis;
Hermia – Kathryn McAdam/Sioned Gwen Davies;
Demetrius – Ashley Riches/Victor Sicard;
Helena – Sky Ingram/Emily Blanch
Quince – James Platt; Snug – Joseph Padfield; Starveling – Hadleigh Adams; Flute – Jorge Navarro-Colorado; Snout – Luis Gomes;
Bottom – Barnaby Rea/Ciprian Droma
Theseus – Ciprian Droma/Barnaby Rea; Hippolyta – Catherine Backhouse;
Peaseblossom – Alba Bosch Teixidor; Cobweb – Faustine de Monès;
Moth – Iria Perestrelo; Mustardseed – Laura Ruhí Vidal;
Fairies – Pupils from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College

Guildhall School of Music & Drama Opera/Stephen Barlow
Director - Martin Lloyd-Evans
Designer - Dick Bird
Lighting - Simon Corder
Movement & Dance - Victoria Newlyn

Barbican Theatre, London
February 28 & March 6 2012

Double-booked for the night, we almost abandoned this production after seeing a first ***** review, but I did see the hilarious last Act first-night, and returned to enjoy and admire the whole, with the second cast, on the last night of the well attended short run.

The essence of the production was Dream and its illogicalities; not one to tease out and try to fit into Britten's mulled-over biography.

A sort of reality breaks in with the hilarious entertainment for the Theseus/Hippolyta, in which Britten excels himself with wonderful operatic parodies, after the "Mechanicals" had driven onto stage their van full of props (reminiscent of Dulcamara's in L'elisir d'amore at Covent Garden 2007 R).

It is one of the best Britten productions Guildhall SMD has put on over many years (my small son was Harry in Albert Herring there in the late '60s, when Vilem Tausky was Head of Opera)...

Lloyd-Evans sets the action somewhere in the 1940s in what might be a hospital dorm [Opera Britannia] with a wheel-chair bound elderly Puck, who becomes a virile youth [L with lovers] who races about his duties at top speed, exploiting the breadth of the Barbican Theatre stage, as do the Haberdashers’ Aske’s fairies, moving with remarkable ease in their important and changing roles; all credit to Victoria Newlyn.

There were great assumptions of all the rewarding parts from both casts, Ciprian Droma particularly notable become an ass and finally as Pyramus trying to take on everyone else's role too.

See him terrified waking up from "Bottom's Dream", suspended high in a birch forest which might have been inspired by those at Tate Modern?

His alternate (with ass's head) can be seen entrancing the first Tytania.

It is greatly to be hoped that GSMD will be invited back to Barbican Theatre regularly until their own two new theatres are completed in a few years.

Peter Grahame Woolf



photos by Clive Barda