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New Era Theatre Club - A Midsummer Night's Dream

12th to 21st September 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

New Era's dream team

Good partnership between Wash Common theatre group and Shakespeare

New Era Players: A Midsummer Night's Dream, at the New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Thursday, September 12 to Saturday, September 14, and Tuesday, September 17 to Saturday, September 21

New Era Player's spirited production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is set in the 1920s. The Athenian wood and the fairy glade have been replaced by due to be demolished Moonlight Club, with the Mechanicals as workmen on the site, and this works well.

Under the assured direction of Lisa Harrington, this versatile and large cast performed with gusto, completely embracing Shakespeare's verse. It was encouraging to see so many young actors playing the roles of the fairies.

There is much to delight in this lively production. Neil Taylor brings a powerful portrayal as Theseus and Marion Hatfull is a perfect foil as Hippolyta.

The king of the fairies, Oberon (David Tute) is embattled with queen Titania, a sterling performance from Ellie Selby, over the custody of the Indian boy.

The four young lovers give engaging interpretations as they fall in and out of love. Neil Dewdney plays the resilient Lysander who is in love with Hermia (Paige Makay). Meanwhile Helena (Pippa Higgins) dotes on Demetrius, strongly played by Ronan Hatfull, who is not in any way interested in her and yearns after Hermia.

When Oberon sees Helena's plight, he decides to help her with some disastrous results when Puck mistakes the identity of the Athenians.

Paul German is not your normal spritely Puck, in fact he plays the part as a reluctant, slightly camp sprite and makes much fun of his size and lack of agility to great comic effect.

The fight sequence between tall Helena and fiery Hermia fizzed with electric energy and was one of the highlights of this production.

Meanwhile the "rude mechanicals" under the direction of Peter Quince the joiner (Brian Harrington) have gathered together to rehearse their play to be performed at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.

Bottom the weaver (Karen Ashby) is determined to play all the parts, but is beguiled by Puck and turned into an ass. It was a pity that a more convincing head mask was not used.

When Titania is awakened from her slumbers by Bottom's singing, she immediately falls in love with him.

There is much comic invention in the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe with Flute the bellows maker (Oliver Norman) as the reluctant Thisbe. Gill Beach as Starveling complete with lamp and wooden dog playing Moonshine, Samuel Prentice as Snout the tinker dressed in mesh as the wall and finally Chris Alston as Snug the joiner who was an unwilling lion scared of scaring the women of the court.

There was good support from Tom Buckingham as Philostrate and Roger Follows as Hermia's father Egeus.

This was apparently only the third time that New Era Players have performed a Shakespearian play and with this fine production they should consider doing more.