This VERY queer retelling of Midsummer Night’s Dream is like a bag of popping candy – colourful, loud, and it makes everyone laugh with its silly “pop”. It’s not just a play, but more of an entertainment experience that starts and ends with Grace Petrie’s songs, provides interval entertainment (lip sync battle!) and some classic comedy in between. It sounds ridiculous as a concept but in some magical way (was it Puck’s magic?) it’s all together just an explosion of happiness.
So if you have other plans for the evening – move that party schedule to some other time. Come and see a show that delivers the ultimate good time, even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan.
The production eases the way into this Shakespeare classic with one simple trick – by introducing the Emcee who interacts with the audience and explains the most recent events in an easy-to-understand, full-of-puns way. Lio Lylark as Emcee sprinkles queer jokes and relatable parallels to make the complex story a little more simplistic, or maybe… almost straight-forward. (see what I did there)
If you’re a fan of pop-jukebox musicals like “&Juliet”, you will have the time of your life seeing this “Midsummer Night’s Dream” production by Sedos.
Shakespeare’s classic with a twist
We follow the classic “Midsummer Night’s Dream” story, with a couple of queer changes. In a seemingly liberal state, there’s a royal wedding coming (in just 4 days!). The entertainment needs to be found and the Duke wants something with that “extra” factor. However, the homophobic parents dig out the old laws to oppress the LGBTQ+ youth, which gets in the way of the fun.
Meanwhile, in the magic forest, where an amateur theatre group prepares a performance for the wedding and young lovers run to evade antiquated laws, and that’s when the crazy bunch of fairies gets involved. With some clever use of magic, love gets even more complicated…
How fun is this stage design!
The stage design is not what I would normally expect from a production of this size. The set changes through the play: from a classic club stage to a black simplistic view of the magical forest, with multiple entrances, stairs, and a ladder to climb – all together resembling a proper playground. This was one of the most creative uses of Bridewell Theatre stage space I’ve ever seen: and it kept on revealing more and more surprises. And, of course, there’s a huge moon hanging above the stage, which at certain moments gets its own personality and even a literal voice.
The seating is ambitiously set in the round, making it slightly more demanding to deliver the play to the audience sitting directly on the sides of the stage.
Costumes in the show embodied the freedom of choice and expression and even though pretty random, they just matched the spirit of the production 100%.
All hail the Fairies Queen
The cast delivers the concept of the show flawlessly – I don’t remember when was the last time I felt so much energy projecting from the stage. Movement choreography was worked out to the last small detail – including little sassy hair flips and over-the-top pop dance numbers (very on-point use of songs by Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga).
My very favourite moment was the reveal of a “forgotten” character hidden at the back of the stage by the end of the play, done simply but in such a hilarious way. Oh, and the little plush dog entrance during the “play within a play”, was uproarious!
The cast in this Sedos production is quite large, and all did such a fantastic job, from sexy dancing Fairies to Starveling (who also makes a fabulous Moon). My highlights of the show have to be Titania (Sarah Beebe), Puck (Sarah Berryman), and Snug (Emma J. Leaver).
Beebe’s stage vibe is perfection, exactly what you would expect from the Queen, and the moment she enters the spotlight, she owns the whole Bridewell Theatre. Such a royal presence! Berryman excelled at stage movement – with the wild but smooth ways to walk and jump around the space, she created this sneaky, a bit awkward character, without going into too much slapstick. Leaver’s Snug is a character of little words, but a huge parody factor. From the first moments of the “rehearsal” and trying out the lion routine, she made not just me but the whole audience excited about the final lion presence during the “play within a play”. Extremely well done in terms of building the audience’s enthusiasm.
Not a perfect show, but you’ll have a hell of an evening with Sedos!
Ok, I will admit this: I have a soft spot for amateur theatre productions. So when on my Instagram I asked for suggestions of shows to see in September and Sedos’ production came up twice, I had a feeling it could be a hit.
And well, let’s get this right – it’s not a perfect piece of theatre. It has some minor slips, wardrobe malfunctions, slightly delayed mic & sound coordination, and an opening song that could do with a tad more vocal work.
But to review an amateur production, I follow 2 important factors: 1) how much fun did I have and 2) how much fun the cast had (that I assume, of course). In the case of “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I have no other choice but to score 10 points in both categories.
This show fits no boxes – because it doesn’t have to – and almost creates its own theatre category. The only worry I had about it was that it might push the boundaries too much and end up being almost a panto. Luckily, it stays away from that. I believe Shakespeare, who was a visionary himself, would approve of this type of variation of his drama. It’s just a wild, frivolous show!
Sedos is a London amateur theatre company, staging seven to 10 shows a year
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at the Bridewell Theatre from 14-24 September 2022.
DIRECTOR | Matt Hudson
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR | Carrie Pennifer
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR | Iacopo Farusi
CHOREOGRAPHER | Mary Bennett
MUSICAL DIRECTOR | Alex Dehn
PRODUCER | Clare Harding
SET DESIGNER | Peter Foster
LIGHTING DESIGNER | Martin Walton