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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill Theatre

Box office

01635 46044.

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE. A map is here. A seating plan is here.


Reviews of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

10th May to 16th June

Review from Newbury Theatre.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows Paul Hart’s Watermill Ensemble productions of Romeo + Juliet and Twelfth Night, and it’s the best one yet. In fact, it’s brilliant. Hart has taken many of his team of young people from the previous productions, added some new ones and come up with a production that is inventive, energetic, musical (yes, we get songs, and not with Shakespeare’s lyrics) and funny.

OK, we expect the mechanicals to be funny, but not so much the lovers. Here, they are funny, which makes them much more interesting. The other big change is Eva Feiler’s Puck, played as I’ve never seen him/her before: not confident, cocky and dashing about all over the place but diffident, timorous, scared of Oberon. This worked amazingly well and gave added poignancy to the play’s closing lines from Puck, “Give me your hands, if we be friends” delivered tentatively towards the audience, with relief when we responded with enthusiastic applause.

And what a good idea to add modern(ish) songs, belted out (with Tyrone Huntley in fine voice) or as a background to the action. Cupid and I Put a Spell on You, obviously.

Clever, too, to include some signing. Sophie Stone, playing Hermia, is deaf and there is some subtle signing between her and Huntley as Lysander which excludes Demetrius (Joey Hickman) who can’t sign. Similarly, the other lovers can exclude her by turning away so that she can’t lip read. Later in the run there are two fully signed performances with signers in costume and included in the action.

Emma McDonald, playing Hippolyta and Titania, was unfortunately taken ill on the first Saturday but the Watermill managed to get Rebecca Lee, who was in Romeo + Juliet and Twelfth Night, to step in and learn the part in two days before press night on Monday. She appeared on stage with a copy of the script which she only needed to refer to a couple of times. To get the words and moves so perfectly in such a short time was an amazing achievement and she thoroughly deserved the ovation she got at the end. Brava!

The cast were all excellent, but Victoria Blunt as a diva-ish Bottom deserves a special mention. The death of Pyramus is always good for laughs, but here she excelled herself. And the chink in Offue Okegbe’s Wall was very popular with the audience.

The key points of Katie Lias’s set were a scaffold tower and what you might call a big box, both on wheels and moved around as needed, as well as a full width red curtain which dropped down from time to time and provided the foreground for shadow puppets from the cast. The lighting, from Tom White, was very much in your face (literally, at times) and added hugely to the impact of the show.

This is a superb production, and the best Dream I’ve seen. Congratulations to Paul Hart and the team.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

A kind of magic

...truly a Dream you wish would go on forever

A Midsummer Night's Dream, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until June 16

The Watermill's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is an absolute joy. Inventively directed by Paul Hart, this vibrant magical performance sparkles with the enthusiasm and energy of the splendid cast.

Eva Feiler beautifully crafted a shadowy childlike Puck in this refreshing new interpretation of the well-known story.

Jamie Satterthwaite is impressive as Oberon, who is determined to take the Indian changeling child from the fairy queen Titania. Due to the illness of Emma McDonald, Rebecca Lee, a regular Watermill performer, stood in at the last moment as Titania and Hippolyta and gave a sterling performance.

The four lovers were excellent. Sophie Stone, who has many connections with Newbury, gave a gutsy portrayal as Hermia, with just the right spirit. Tyrone Huntley was an engaging Lysander. The scenes in which they both used sign language to communicate were powerful and moving. Huntley also has a splendid singing voice with an endearing rendition of My Baby Cares For Me.

Joey Hickman was suitably wimpish as Demetrius and Lilly Flynn's Helena was feisty, particularly in the fight scene with Hermia.

Leading the rude mechanicals, Victoria Blunt was outstanding as Bottom – a true tour de force performance, bubbling with energy and buffoonery.

The talented ensemble brought a zestful, fun-filled playfulness, as they practiced their play Pyramus and Thisbe, to be performed at the Duke's wedding, with hilarious results.

Music is an integral part of the show and showcases the talent of the gifted actors, with some unexpected tongue in cheek renditions including Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You, as Puck applied the magical flower juice.

Then there is Blue Moon, Rogers and Hart's romantic song that perfectly fits the atmosphere.

Karie Lias has created a fluid set design with a scaffolding tower – red curtains and the heavy ropes of an old fly tower suggesting a Victorian theatre. The costumes are simply exquisite and Tom White's imaginative lighting creates an enchanting atmosphere.

There is so much to enjoy in this spirited performance.

It is truly a Dream you wish would go on forever.


There are reviews from The Stage ("fizzing with humour, charm, and just a touch of chaos... a particularly light and delightful fairy tale... an overall sense of sheer fun that’s both rare and refreshing... " - 4 stars), The Spy In The Stalls ("this joyful new production... such a delightful Dream" - 4stars), WhatsOnStage ("the company transform a story familiar to many into a tale of the unexpected with game-changing casting coups... expect the unexpected in an evening of magical delight" - 4 stars), There Ought To Be Clowns ("an unalloyed pleasure... full of innovative touches which work separately like a treat and also combine into something really special... the world of Shakespeare in all its exhilarating imagination").

There's an interesting article...

... by Tei Williams about the process in staging a Watermill production, from choosing the play through to the opening night. It's here.

Reviews in the Archive

Burke and Hare (April 2018 and on tour)
The Rivals (March 2018)
Teddy (January 2018)
The Borrowers (November 2017)
Under Milk Wood (October 2017)
Loot (September 2017)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (September 2017 and on tour)
A Little Night Music (July 2017)
All at Sea! (July 2017)
The Miller's Child (July 2017)
Nesting (July 2017 and on tour)
House and Garden (May 2017)
Twelfth Night (April 2017)
Faust x2 (March 2017)
Murder For Two (January 2017)
Sleeping Beauty (November 2016)
Frankenstein (October 2016)
The Wipers Times (September 2016)
Crazy For You (July 2016)
Watership Down (June 2016)
Untold Stories (May 2016)
One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (April 2016 and on tour)
Romeo and Juliet (February 2016)
Tell Me on a Sunday (January 2016)
Alice in Wonderland (November 2015)
Gormenghast (November 2015) - see the Youth page
The Ladykillers (September 2015)
Oliver! (July 2015)
A Little History of the World (July 2015 and on tour)
Between the Lines (July 2015)
The Deep Blue Sea (June 2015)
Far From the Madding Crowd (April 2015)
Tuxedo Junction (March 2015)
The Secret Adversary (February 2015)
Peter Pan (November 2014)
But First This (October 2014)
Twelfth Night (November 2014) - see the Youth page
Journey's End (September 2014)
Calamity Jane (July 2014)
The Boxford Masques - Joe Soap's Masquerade (July 2014)
Hardboiled - the Fall of Sam Shadow (July 2014)
A Bunch of Amateurs (May 2014)
Sense and Sensibility (April 2014)
Life Lessons (March 2014)
All My Sons (February 2014)
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (January 2014)
Pinocchio (November 2013)
Sherlock's Last Case (September 2013)
Romeo+Juliet (September 2013 and on tour)
The Witches of Eastwick (July 2013)
Laurel & Hardy (June 2013)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (May 2013)
The Miser (April 2013)
David Copperfield (March 2013)
Sleuth (February 2013)
Arabian Nights (November 2012)
The Tempest (September 2012)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (August 2012)
Boxford Masques (July 2012)
Ben Hur (June 2012)
Of Mice and Men (May 2012)
Love on the Tracks (April 2012 and on tour)
Henry V and The Winter's Tale (April 2012)
Lettice and Lovage (February 2012)
The Wind in the Willows (November 2011)
Some Like It Hotter (November 2011 and on tour)
Great Expectations (September 2011)
Radio Times (August 2011)
The Marriage of Figaro (July 2011)
Moonlight and Magnolias (May 2011)
Richard III and The Comedy of Errors (April 2011)
The Clodly Light Opera and Drama Society (March 2011)
Relatively Speaking (February 2011)
Treasure Island (November 2010)
Single Spies (September 2010)
Copacabana (July 2010)
Daisy Pulls It Off (June 2010)
Brontë (April 2010)
Raising Voices (March 2010)
Confused Love (March 2010)
Heroes (February 2010)
James and the Giant Peach (November 2009)
Educating Rita (October 2009)
Spend Spend Spend! (July 2009 and September 2010)
Blithe Spirit (May 2009)
Bubbles (April to May and September to October 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice (March 2009)
Life X 3 (January 2009)
Matilda and Duffy's Stupendous Space Adventure (November 2008)
The Sirens' Call (November 2008)
Our Country's Good (September 2008)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of The Recruiting Officer (October 2008)
Sunset Boulevard (July 2008)
Boxford Masques - Knight and Day (July 2008)
Black Comedy and The Bowmans (May 2008)
London Assurance (April 2008)
Micky Salberg's Crystal Ballroom Dance Band (April 2008 and on tour)
Great West Road (March 2008)
Merrily We Roll Along (March 2008)
Honk! (November 2007)
Rope (September 2007)
Martin Guerre (July 2007)
Twelfth Night (June 2007)
The Story of a Great Lady (April and September 2007, and on tour)
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (April 2007)
For Services Rendered (March 2007)
Plunder (January 2007)
The Snow Queen (November 2006)
Peter Pan in Scarlet (October 2006)
The Taming of the Shrew (September 2006 and on tour in 2007)
Hot Mikado (July 2006 and September 2009)
Boxford Masques: The Crowning of the Year (July 2006)
Hobson's Choice (May 2006)
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (April 2006)
Tartuffe (February 2006)
The Jungle Book (November 2005)
The Gilded Lilies (October 2005)
Copenhagen (September 2005)
The Garden of Llangoed (September 2005 and September 2006)
Thieves' Carnival (July 2005)
The Shed (July 2005)
Mack and Mabel (May 2005)
The Odyssey (May 2005)
Broken Glass (April 2005)
The Winter's Tale (January 2005)
Arabian Nights (December 2004)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of Whose Life is it Anyway? (November 2004)
Multiplex (November 2004)
Neville's Island (September 2004)
The Comedian (September 2004 and March 2005)
Raising Voices Again (September 2004)
Pinafore Swing (July 2004)
The Venetian Twins (May 2004)
The Gentleman from Olmedo (April 2004)
Mr & Mrs Schultz (March 2004 and on tour)
Sweeney Todd (February 2004)
The Emperor and the Nightingale (November 2003)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of An Ideal Husband (November 2003)
A Star Danced (September 2003)
The Fourth Fold (September 2003)
The Last Days of the Empire (July 2003)
Accelerate (July 2003)
Dreams from a Summer House (May 2003)
The Triumph of Love (April 2003)
Gigolo (March 2003)
Raising Voices (March 2003)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (February 2003)
The Firebird (November 2002)
Ten Cents a Dance (September 2002)
Dancing at Lughnasa (July 2002)
Love in a Maze (June 2002)
Fiddler on the Roof (April 2002)
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (March 2002 and March 2006)
Only a Matter of Time (February 2002)
Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper (November 2001)
Piaf (October 2001)
The Merchant of Venice (October 2001)
Witch (September 2001)
The Clandestine Marriage (August 2001)
The Importance of Being Earnest (May 2001)
Gondoliers (March 2001)
Rose Rage (February 2001)
Carmen (July 2000)