The latest in a long line of A Midsummer Night’s Dream productions (and one of many this summer) comes courtesy of Whistlestop theatre, a new company comprising young emerging talent from all over the place. The chosen venue was Barons Court, within a very small and intimate setting below a trendy pub, selling over-priced albeit very tasty chips. The ‘stage’ included a small space in front of the audience with stacks and scatters of cardboard boxes. I could tell this was going to be a very interesting evening.
Austin Caley, who played Puck, was outstanding, entertaining the audience from start to finish and perfecting and playing his character on a consistent and professional level. He immediately put people at ease, handling one man’s beer at the beginning and was without a doubt the star of this production; the fact that he is only just about to start his training at drama school illustrates even more the star he has the potential to become. Tom Hurley, too, playing the character of Bottom was permanently at ease with his performance, creating riotous laughter after every utterance and even from some of the cast members, which usually I’d criticise but here only contributed to the relaxed and joyous atmosphere. Hurley fully embodied his character, bringing what could have been a thoroughly amateur show to a much higher level. Emma Read and Emma Jane Richardson, who played Hermia and Helena respectively, also did great jobs in becoming their characters, with particular emphasis on Richardson whose interactions with Demetrius (Cael King) brought fire and yet more hilarity. King and Dino Fetscher (Lysander) were often awkward to watch, both not convincing me of their intentions, and Fetscher gestured and over acted so much I wanted to give him a chill pill or something.
Whistlestop’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream isn’t the best thing I have ever seen but I saw moments of radiance and definite glimpses of some bright acting talent. Watch this space.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream played the Barons Court theatre until 11 August. For more information on Whistlestop theatre see its website.