From the opening scene, the audience suspects that Lazarus Theatre Company’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will not remain completely faithful to the original text. This is confirmed by the arrival of Egeus, Hermia’s father, who in this production has been changed to an overbearing matriarch. Although a notable change, it is less striking than the decision to divide the role of Puck between four different actors. Rather than a central character, Shakespeare’s mischievous hobgoblin is presented here as simply one of Titania’s sprites. For many, Puck is synonymous with the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I felt that splitting the part results in this version losing some of its sparkle.

However, there is much to enjoy in this production. Parts of it are visually lovely, in particular the transition from the banquet scene to the wilderness of the forest. The falling snow, coupled with Alex Musgrave’s clever use of wintry blue and white lights, provides Titania with a truly mesmerising entrance. The production also captures the comedic nature of the text extremely well, largely due to James Taylor Thomas’s superbly energetic and animated portrayal of Bottom as an overenthusiastic thespian. Another performer that stands out in this youthful company is Ewa Jaworski’s Helena, who moves seamlessly from stomping around the stage like a lovesick puppy after a reluctant Demetrius to being furious when she believes that the two suitors are mocking her.

A particularly fine moment for Jaworski is her argument with Hermia, where her delivery of catty comments about Hermia’s small stature would not sound out of place in a soap opera brawl. This illustrates one of the biggest strengths of the production – Lazarus Theatre Company have made Shakespeare’s prose accessible but have avoided dumbing it down. Instead, they have managed to produce a funny and majestic production that I believe does justice to this much loved classic.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at the Blue Elephant Theatre until 15 December. For more information and tickets, please see the Blue Elephant Theatre website.