28th July 2017
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Gatecrash Theatre Swindon
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
‘A story of order and disorder, reality and appearance and love and marriage. Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons are to be married and great celebrations are planned.’
So last night entailed two new experiences. One was seeing a live production of William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. And the other was seeing Gatecrash Theatre properly in action. They’ve been on my radar for a while but I haven’t managed to see them. Part of the problem being that getting to the Arts Centre in Old Town is such a schlep on public transport. But I digress.
I won’t go on about the plot aside from the synopsis above. If you’re not familiar with MND there’s oodles of information out on the World Wide Web. This is the Royal Shakespeare Company: https://www.rsc.org.uk/a-midsummer-nights-dream/the-plot I think it’s fair to say that MND is ‘Shakespeare Lite’. As ever with Shakespeare the human condition features, but with lightness and humour and fun.
A fabulous festival-themed Faerie Frolic
So now to this production. Let’s get the gripe out of the way first: there were times, throughout the performance when the diction could have been clearer and the delivery a tad slower! Even allowing for the nature of this story. Take a breath guys!
But that was more than made up for with sheer energy, enthusiasm and exuberance. There’s no lack of any of that! There’s no faulting them there.
I loved the interpretation. I suspect Gatecrash are not the first to do it but setting the play in a music festival setting is inspired. All that drink and drunks and sex – let’s not pretend otherwise! – is a damn good vehicle for this play. Think of the end of the play when Puck, one of the fairies, tells the audience that it’s all been a dream. A dream? Or a drug induced trip?! And Shakespeare wrote all this without LSD. Imagine what he might have done with it?
Be all that as it may, the festival theme lends itself to an opportunity to bring in a range of music and popular cultural references. I loved the conga at the wedding. And when the fairies are sitting unseen, watching the mayhem they’ve created, they’re wearing 3D specs and eating popcorn. That made me smile.
And of course a festival setting isn’t hard to conjure up. A pile of old pallets, a couple of spray-painted oil drums and fairy lights aplenty and Bob is, as they say, your uncle. Though they could have gone to my mate at 4Points Leisure (shameless plug 😉 )
I liked how women were playing male roles. I’m not sure if that was deliberate or not or they were simply suited to the role for whatever reason. Whatever – I approve. It’s a neat turnaround from Shakespeare’s day when all the parts were played by men because women weren’t allowed to act. #obvs
And there was a hint of same-sex relationships I thought. In a weekend where Pride is happening in Swindon that’s kinda nice.
In terms of the performances, I enjoyed the fairies a great deal. Puck wasn’t the only one being puckish (yep that is the origin of the adjective: playful, especially in a mischievous way.) They injected a great deal of faerie fun into the play. And a hint of a good singing voice from Cobweb (Pamela Giraud Telme) with a brief refrain of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ (and the livin’ is easy) LOVE that song!
But the standout for me has to be Bottom as portrayed by Keira C Georgeson. She gave that role everything she’d got. In particular, at the end of the play, when the group of amateur players, of which Bottom is one, are performing at the wedding party. Bottom took to his role with the greatest of gusto and went suitably over the top. Great stuff.
But don’t take my word for it all dear listeners. Go and see it. It’s playing again tonight and tomorrow so you’ve got time to catch it.
Who are Gatecrash Theatre?
Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gatecrash-Theatre-1577142649181375/?fref=ts
Here’s an extract from their website to give you a flavour of who are they are what they’re about:
‘Gatecrash is a developmental theatre company based in Swindon offering training and paid opportunities to professional and aspiring actors and those seeking a new creative hobby . The company was set up in January 2014 in response to the growing number of adults living in or around Swindon who are talented Actors, Writers and Directors and need a creative outlet; too old for youth theatre but wanting the professional mentorship, performance opportunities and support offered by many of these outlets. We also offer weekly workshops for aspiring performers who until now have had little to no experience of theatre. Seeking an opportunity to work and learn from professionals in the business, develop their craft and share their own talents.
Gatecrash is a high quality, professionally led step up from youth theatre! A support network for the artists of the future. Simple!’