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  • iangregson

Welcome Return: A Review Of A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Sometimes you don't know what you'll miss until you do, and returning to Glasgow's Theatre Royal for Scottish Opera's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was not only a feast for the senses, as ever, it was a balm to the soul as just being in a packed audience enjoying the majesty and magic of live opera was life-affirming - a significant step in moving on.

As such, it seems appropriate that the original production was shut down due to the original Lockdown only weeks before it was due to open. This felt like a shared experience for everyone involved, and there was a palpable sense of expectation before the curtain was raised. What greeted us was like a scene from Dickens rather than Shakespeare, with fairies and elves as urchins waiting the arrival of their King and Queen, the impish Puck among them.

What followed was over three hours of sheer delight as the famous farce unfolded on stage, with lovers crossed, both human and fairy, and the play within the play was worked towards. There were impeccable performances across the board, but mention must be made of Catriona Hewitson's Queen Tytania and Lawrence Zazzo's King Oberon, both of whom easily move from regal to ridiculous as occasion demands. And the comic characters of David Shipley's Bottom and Michael Guest's sprightly Puck were also memorable in roles which can be overplayed.

There was more than a hint of Tim Burton in the staging and costume, something in which Scottish Opera always excels. This time I was struck by the ingenious use of apparently simple props. A single mattress used for sleep, seduction, pratfalls, protection, and more, and the use of foxed mirrors to reflect the stage on itself adding to the atmosphere and the dream state. At one point the Queen's bed was left alone on stage, looking not unlike a Tracey Emin exhibit. And I'll not forget that all you need for a Centurion's galea is a bicycle helmet and a brush!

Before we knew it we were thrown back into the night and the damp streets of Glasgow, wandering home and pondering all we had just seen. After so long inside and locked-down that was almost as discombobulating as anything on stage. For me it was a perfect evening, and a welcome return to the opera. Sometimes a night out is so much more than that, and this was just such an occasion. The production now moves to Edinburgh, and, if you have the chance, I urge you to see it.

Dates for A Midsummer Night's Dream at Festival Theatre Edinburgh: 1, 3, 5 Mar 2022

You can follow Scottish Opera on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ScottishOpera

Here's some images from the show (© James Glossop)

We recorded a SWH! podcast interview with Queen Tytania herself, soprano, and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, Catriona Hewitson. Below is the video version, but you can listen in other ways here - Scottish Opera Podcast - Catriona Hewitson

Dates for A Midsummer Night's Dream at Festival Theatre Edinburgh: 1, 3, 5 Mar 2022


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