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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
Four stars

Teenage dreams are hard to beat in Ali de Souza’s revival of Shakespeare’s most psycho-active rom-com, given a fair old elixir of youth by the RCS’ second year BA Acting students. De Souza sets out his store on school prize-giving day at downtown Athens High, where love is in the air, and both students and teachers old enough to know better are a little bit overcome. Poor head-girl Hermia is so lovesick she takes a leap down the rabbit-hole of her fevered imagination as stage-fright and hormones get the better of her.

School janny Egeus has to complain to head teachers Theseus and Hippolyta about the big fallout between Hermia, her swotty pal Helena and the boys who’ve come between them, Lysander and Demetrius. Once the gang do a runner in the woods, things take on a Lord of the Flies vibe, as chemical enhancement fires them up enough to ditch their old school ties. Meanwhile, goody-two-shoes Titania and Oberon are letting their hair down in similar fashion, while Peter Quince’s drama club go equally off the rails. At the centre of all this mischief is Charlie O’Conor’s wild child Puck, a feral refugee from Bash Street, who takes the idea of a school trip to mind-expanding extremes.

De Souza’s Grange Hill meets Skins style approach pays dividends in a show framed by the blackboards of designer Myron Hunter-Urie’s set. With the young lovers at the show’s throbbing heart, Felixe Forde and Eimear Fearon flit between innocence and experience as Hermia and Helena. Veera Lapinkoski lends Titania a Miss Brodie-like sense of emancipation, and Jamie Burch makes for a delightfully ridiculous Bottom, for whom self-awareness is spectacularly lacking.

What happens in the woods stays in the woods, however, as everyone sorts themselves out for rock and roll prom night. The awakening that’s already occurred is sealed with a kiss in a way that suggests a little learning can be a blissfully dangerous thing.

The Herald, January 25th 2019


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