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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
3 stars
When Puck comes onstage in a woolly hat, shorts, Wellington boots and a football scarf, looking somewhere between a 1970s trainspotter and the ghost of Tom Weir, it sets the tone for the Sell A Door company's bright, youthful take on Shakespeare's most ubiquitous rom-com. When he picks up the transistor radio that sits at the front of the stage, tuning the dial to assorted weather-based bulletins, he's also tuning in on a world where the sun always shines.

With a cast of just nine doubling up parts with abandon, Bryn Holding's touring production shows off that world via a network of mobile doors that moves the action from Theseus and Hippolyta's formal courtship to the reckless romp of the young lovers once they get lost in the woods. If the gravitas isn't always present in the portrayals of the older generation's tweedy demeanour, things are far more assured once the Mechanicals stumble into view. These scenes are milked for all they're worth

There's fun to be had with door-bells, and when Tommy Aslett's ass-headed Bottom bumps into Katy Sobey's Snug sporting a lion mask, the double take could go on forever. At the play's heart, however, is David Eaton's Puck, who here becomes both narrator and chorus as he manipulates the lovers' destinies into being. There's a sense that even his bungling was done deliberately to see what mischief might happen.

As with the play's opening, the epilogue is broadcast via Puck's transistor radio. If the mood change hints at darker things to come, the radio silence that follows gives things a weight previously only hinted at.

The Herald, February 25th 2013

ends

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