Shakespeare’s classic fairytale forest farce is transposed to the home front during the Second World War. Air raid sirens sound as we join the cast in watching a charming silent railway rescue film - Help! Help! - and then the real action begins. Mappa Mundi and Theatr Mwldan have been creating and touring accessible new co-productions annually since 2006. Together with guest director Peter Doran of The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, they have conjured a moonlit multimedia show of shadowy uncertainty where dreams play within dreams and even night is confused.
Most of the 13-strong cast are Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama alumni including a sweetly stubborn landgirl Hermia (Lisa Zahra), a haughty, snivelling Helena (Joanna Simpkins) and an American GI Lysander (newcomer Jack Brown) but not Francois Pandolfo, who turns a marvellously wicked Poe-inspired Puck. Throughout there is a tendency to overplay the laughs that leaves the show feeling uneven, and when they pare back they are funnier, as seen in some of the earlier lighter moments with joyful jester Bottom and the other japing players who make up the SAADOS (St Athens Amateur Dramatics and Operatics Society).
Designer Sean Crowley and lighting designer Ceri James set magical moods with multimedia flourish - the silent film, firefly fairies, and a cinematic, layered forest - as characters slip away from the big house to escape reality beneath a starstruck sky, skipping and tripping through the moonlight and shadows to find their hearts’ desires.
Borough Theatre, Abergavenny, October 23, then touring until December 8
- Cast includes:
- Running time: