“A visual treat and outrageously funny!”
The news that Daniel Taylor Productions, a local independent theatre company, would be gracing The Epstein Theatre from 25th – 29th April with its first ever Shakespearean production, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which boasted an almost entirely Scouse cast, was undoubtedly well received by the Liverpudlians, and it caused quite a buzz around town: not to mention that the production would be starring the producer Daniel Taylor as Bottom, and Chloe Taylor as Helena – who has already made an impressive name for herself in her roles in Wicked and The Sound of Music.
So we at LSRadio decided to send our correspondents, Jacky Adcock and Nikie Azlli, to see whether this exciting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream lived up to the huge expectations at The Epstein Theatre. And as you can see below, they had quite a lot to say…
Daniel Taylor as Puck
JACKY: I’m a sucker for a festive comedy so it was a treat to see it so faithfully done, with savvy technical decisions a welcome addition.
The stage space was used economically and to great effect. A huge full moon hung at the back of the stage lighting up a small wooden bench, exactly the kind upon which lovers might sit and quarrel. I was really impressed with how well the director used the stage, often keeping Puck or the fairy characters to the side to watch the young lovers along with us. The sound and lighting was also really, really good; Oberon was introduced to deep pink lights and fluttering flutes, for example, subtle but effective.
Sharon Byatt and John Schumacher stood out as Hippolyta/Titania and Theseus/Oberon respectively, as hard-partying heads of state by day and darkly sensual feuding immortals by night. Schumacher went for a celtic accent for Oberon, which worked for him, as he berated Pucks numerous failures like a druidic Malcolm Tucker.
If Schumacher channeled Capaldi then Danny Taylor drew heavily on John Cleese for his Bottom, absolutely stealing the show (as Bottom should) with an impressive range of voices, presence and physical comedy. Act three’s play-within-a-play was outstanding, with the Rude Mechanicals revelling in the sheer theatricality of the scene; it’s wonderful to see actors really let loose to chew the scenery- while bearing in mind that good bad acting is quite tricky to produce.
NIKIE: Whilst the atmosphere of the theatre and the actors did take me on a ride, I find that sitting in the third row was a little difficult on the neck what with having to stare up the stage as well as the fog catching my breath. If you’re planning on visiting, try the middle rows for a wider perspective and enjoyable experience.
J: Maybe my biggest objection was with some elements of costuming; the fairies, for some reason, looked like they were about to go to either dance practice or out clubbing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the performance of the fairies, their manic giggling and ominous lurking contributed a lot to the festival atmosphere the play got so right, but leggings and black tops really just aren’t a complete costume. They looked like they were still in rehearsal, and stood out sorely against Oberon and Titania’s excellent woodland-gothic attires and the generally good costuming of the wider cast.
N: As for me, and viewers like me who aren’t well versed with Shakespeare’s work as Jacky is, it’d be good to have a background read on the premise. Even with little knowledge of the play, I still find little difficulty to follow the flow of the plot especially with such brilliant actors.
Nevertheless, Taylor and Co. should be proud of what they achieved at the Epstein; a visual treat and outrageously funny! They truly did justice to Shakespeare’s festive classic.
Images courtesy of Daniel Taylor Productions Ltd., The Epstein Theatre.