Business is business at the start of Hugh Hodgart's revival of Shakespeare's sunniest rom-com, as performed by MA Classical and Contemporary Text students at RCS, in partnership with Bard in the Botanics. Love and money are in the air as Theseus and Hippolyta announce their nuptials to the world's press, sealing the deal on an unholy alliance between Athens and Amazonia as they go. As Honey Durruthy's Egius seeks advice on the merry-go-round romance between Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius, Theseus' line to Hermia about austerity and single life becomes even more pointed by its power-dressing context.
While Hermia and Lysander's camping trip to the woods doesn't end well, especially when Hermia's love-sick hippy chick mate Helena is around, the Rude Mechanicals' worker's playtime sees Bottom briefly become Titania's bit of rough. With Isabel Palmstierna's Puck at the centre of such cack-handed mischief-making, the transition from playing Philostrate is akin to some nice but dim intern with ideas above her station whose alter ego goes on a bender at the office party. At the end of the play's first half she even suggests a well-earned tea break.
As three very different communities rub up against each other before going their separate, class-based ways, an even brisker second half is addressed with an impressively light touch by Hodgart's cast of twelve. This is despite minimal carry on between Matthew Miles' Bottom and Lily Cooper's Titania. While Miles still has plenty of fun as the old ham, this becomes Puck's play. As Palmstierna's creations flit between worlds like a rootless social climber, the magic she conjures up en route proves infectious for all.
The Herald, March 24th 2017