Midsummer night feast

Gabe Stewart discovers a Dream that’s come in from the cold and had a baby.

After seven weeks touring A Midsummer Night's Dream around open air venues. lntirnate Exchanges Theatre Company comes indoors. Performing for 500 on a huge front lawn didn't allow actors much scope for subtlety. ‘ln fact, it could get quite pantomimic.‘ says director Katie Milledge. Now large gestures are lost in favour of more gentle irony.

Milledge’s direction concentrates on humour and physicality. bordering on the slapstick. and interprets the fairies as alter egos of the lovers. Therefore we see lmogen Smith play Queen of the Fairies. Titania. with aggressive emotional excess. while her more restrained human self. Hippolyta. wears an air hostess smile. Similarly Jonathan Digby as Oberon is at turns tyrannical and tender. yet. doubling as Duke Theseus. he becomes an introverted bumbling Prince Charles.

Ten.-. 4] . Dream on: Shakespeare for all

The whole company shines: the lovers (Michael Schillinger. Giuliano Neri. Christine South and Marisa Jones) are altemately comic and tender. John Albasiny and Geoff Bannister are the Charlie Drake-ish mechanicals. complementing Bottom‘s concentrated comic homy ass (lan Fleet). Sonia Beck makes a cheeky Puck. of some considerable substance.

Three or four children in the audience fell into uncontrollable fits of giggles during the mechanicals‘ play. But the


company‘s adaptation. A Kidsummer Night's Dream drops the hilarious mechanicals because. says Milledge. they aim to unravel the story.

K idsummer 's mix of Shakespeaiian English and contemporary colloquialism works well. but for adults or children familiar with the original. Kidsummer is bound to be confusing. The lovers' story was handled competently enough. but poorly defined actors‘ doubling led to a muddled fairy story element.

All the cast appear in Midsummer. apart from writer and director Ed Finch. playing Bottom. who surprisingly lacked their self-assurance. Although merging the characters of Puck and Peter Quinn didn‘t quite work. Sonia Beck. who plays them. is a very. very good Puck. and a natural with children. being neither patronising nor intimidating. Audience participation (of the entirely non- squeamish variety) appears to arise quite naturally out of the text. Kidstonmer's is thought-provoking and fun. but id also recommend Midsummer as suitable for sevens and up. I I A Midsummer Night’s Dream/A 5 Kidsummer ilight’s Dream (Fringe)

Intimate Exchanges Theatre Company. Southbridge Centre (Venue I23) 556 3663. Midsummer: until 3 Sept (not 30

Aug). lpm. £5. £3.50. Kidsummer: until 27 Aug. 10.30am; 28 Aug—3 Sept. l 10.15am. £4 (£2.50).


Playboy Of The Western World

Communicado’s spirited production of J. M. Synge’s tale of the great braggard who receives his comeuppance, has captured perfectly the roaring comedy and flights of poetic eloquence inherent in the play.

Mark Aiken plays Christy Mahon with a suitable mixture of shyness and bravado as we listen in on this stranger‘s rapidly embellished story of supposed patrlcide. Spurred on by the competitive attentions of gallus young Margaret (played with passion by Cara Kelly) and the wily Widow Quin, the rural Mahon continues to repeat his ‘rnurderous’ tale until the admiring villagers endow him with his prestigious Playboy title. However, with the arrival of his blbulous and bandaged father (bearing an uncanny resemblance to ilab c. llesbitt), Mahon’s heroic status takes a bashing, with disastrous


From these bones, Gerry Mulgrew’s production explores and exploits the lull imaginative power of Synge’s dancing language. From Margaret and Widow nuin’s adept verbal duelling to the romantic descriptions of ‘the water of life’, the dialogue complements the visual comedy consistently with rousing effect. Communicado has chosen to embrace the comedy device of contrast, wholeheartedly taking the moral, situational and physical forms to the extreme, with the concept of cross-

Communicado on mesmerising form dressing overstretching itself into the realms of the farcical.

Interspersed with the Playboy’s transformation we follow the boisterous preparations for that traditional Irish custom the wake. it is via these scenes that the drunkenness and laughter flirt with the darker shadows and Rab ilandleigh’s music conspires to produce a mesmeric atmosphere. (Ann Donald).

Playboy Of The Western World (Fringe) Communicado, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, until 3 Sept, various times, £8 (£5).


Wakey, wakey! Gabe Stewart can give you five good reasons to pop those pep pills and roll out of bed early.

. ' x:

I ‘This Morning’ with Richard llot Judy This odd-ball game show-cum- chat show-cum-Fringe showcase. where a 40p bid might buy your ticket, has already given away a Ford Escort as a prize.

"l'his Morning' with Richard Not Judy (Fringe) Richard Herring. I’leasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 3 Sept (not 3/ Aug) [1.45am [7/258 (£6/£7)

( 'I’iekets also for auction twenty minutes before show starts).

I More Cuddles llow Jack Klaff is remarkably controlled in this theatrical monologue. constituting a minutely detailed observation on romantic relationships. Passionate. comic and compelling stuff.

More Cuddles Now/Bosom Buddies (Fringe) Jack K lafl. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 3 Sept (not I Sept), noon, [6 (£3).

I Playboy of the Western World Delivering all it promised, Cormnunicado Theatre‘s production breathes even more life into an already lively. lyrical classic.

Playboy of the Western World (Fringe) Cmnmunii'ado. 'lrai'erse (Venue I 5) 228 [404. until 3 Sept (not 29 Aug). various times. £8 (£5).

I The Guardian International Student Drama Award Whichever student group is deemed tops will give an award-winning performance. As the Festival draws to a close. and so do your finances. the assurance of seeing something wonderful. really cheaply. becomes all-important.

The Guardian International Student Drama Award (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 29 Aug. noon. [3 ([2).

I Just A Minute lf running short of money isn't so much of a problem as running out of the stuff altogether. then fear not. You can enjoy the Fringe for free thanks to Auntie Beeb. and still see past Fringe favourites Paul Merton. Nicholas Parsons and Clement Freud. Just A Minute (Fringe) BBC Radio 4. l’leasant‘e (Venue 33) 556 6550. 3/

Aug. [2. l5pm and I .30an free.

The List 26 August—8 September l994 21