From classroom to forest wonderland in A Midsummer Night's Dream

By Beth Allcock on August 23, 2012 1:28 PM |

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Greenwich Theatre.

Take a step out of the schoolroom into a magical land of the forest for a rip-roaring comedy to kick-start the autumn season at Greenwich Theatre.

Fresh from a month-long stint at the Edinburgh Festival, the Custom/Practice company will bring its unique take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream back to the London stage.

The lively, humourous production transports the audience from a grim, inner-city classroom to the fantastical world of woodland, where the mischievous fairy Puck plays havoc with four lovers, while the fairy queen Titania falls in love with the foolish Bottom.

And actress Rebecca Loudon, who performs the roles of Helena and Peta Quince, said the cast's take on the Bard's classic dispelled thoughts of 'stuffy, middle-aged Shakespeare' with a truly 'rip-roaring comedy'.

"It's very accessible, it's really pacy, very funny and it's a cast of young people so it's a very spirited production," said the 26-year-old.

"We are very playful with Shakespeare's language but we are very true to his text, it's just got an injection of the now in it.

"People instantly see it's set in a school and think oh my God, there's going to be a wacky take on it, but we dissolve quickly out of that to a more traditional world.

"The message that people don't need to sit in front of their X Box and be entertained with computers, and that you can read a story a be transported to a world of your imagination - it has been the very thing to give people food for thought."

She said the audience - frequently a mixture of a middle-aged and younger crowd - reacted very positively to the dual character role of each actor, since the play's debut at the Almeida Festival.

"The thing people have really loved is the sharing of parts," she said.

"Sometimes you leave the stage as one character, there's a bit of music, and you enter straight away with another costume.

"In terms of Peta, it has been really fun.

"I haven't played character parts before and this is a real character part, and I have had a lot of fun with the design and direction to find a way to make her mine, as she was written as a man (Peter Quince).

"I have made her into a young, hippy-ish, pernickety, wanna-be drama teacher, a woman director who has missed her calling.

"It has been really nice to have free reign with that.

"I have really enjoyed Helena, she's very self deprecating, has very low self-esteem and the interesting thing is trying to find a way of making that loveable, rather than annoying.

"She has a lot of time moaning to the audience that she's not as beautiful as Hermia, so that's the challenge there."

And after four weeks performing in a Scottish tent, Rebecca said she welcomed the opportunity to tread the boards back in the capital.

"I think it's easier to create an atmosphere in a theatre," she added.

"It will be good to go back to the original stage and nice to be back in London."

August 30 to September 1, 7.30pm.

Tickets priced at £15 or £10 for concessions.

Go to greenwichtheatre.org.uk for more information.

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