Arc news: April 2008
'Bottom and co are tops'
Karen Moss of The Post newspaper reviews the final performance of Barking & Dagenham Youth Theatre's production of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Broadway Theatre...
There is something very fitting about Shakespeare's most mischevious comedy being played by a group of enthusiastic young thespians.
The youngsters from Barking & Dagenham Youth Theatre, directed by Arc, gave three performances of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' last week April 1 to 3 at the Broadway in Barking.
It is the story of four young lovers struggling to understand their feelings, with a sprinkling of fairy dust and set in an enchanted forest filled with naughty nymphs. Seeing it performed by young actors was a treat, because who understands the pain and drama of love triangles better than teenagers?
It is a romantic comedy set in ancient Athens, Hermia (played by Katie Snooks) is beautiful and admired throughout the land. She and Lysander (Alex Tucker) are in love. But Demetrius (Robert Storey) also loves Hermia; her father Egeus (Matthew Neal) wishes her to marry him and not Lysander and forbids their love.
To make things worse, Hermia's friend Helena (Mae Henderson) is still in love with Demetrius, even though he left her to pursue Hermia.
Unable to live without each other, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away and tell Helena of their plans, but jealous Helena tells Demetrius of their flight. They chase through the enchanted woods where warring Fairy King and Queen, Oberon (Billy Aldridge) and Titania (Vicky Downs) live with a playful fairy named Puck.
Havoc is caused by a violet flower that makes a sleeping person fall in love with whoever they next set eyes on, and soon both men are in love with Helena instead of Hermia.
That same night in the woods, six foolish tradesmen from the town, Quince (Sarah Price), Snug (Poppy Stevenson-Hanns), Snout (Ruth Jacob), Flute (Shaun Alexander), Starveling (Jonathan Bright) and Bottom (Anil Sivarajah) plan to rehearse their play. But Puck interrupts their plans when he places a spell on Bottom by giving him the head of a donkey, Puck then makes Titania fall in love with Bottom.
Barking & Dagenham Youth Theatre used some very interesting devices to help the audiences access the meaning of the play. Even very young children in the audience, who could not have understood all of the language, laughed along with the characters.
Puck, the mischievous woodland fairy was played by four actors (Laura Besly, Karis Braithwaite, Chloe Butler and Becky Snooks) helping to demonstrate his different moves and show how he could flit around the forest causing trouble so quickly.
There was some fantastic physical comedy, especially from Katie Snooks who played Hermia, she was wonderfully funny and expressive with the language.
Anil Sivarajah also stood out from the cast and has superb comic timing and had the audience in stitches with his portrayal of self-involved Bottom.
A tremendous amount of effort had evidently gone into this production. The costumes were spot on, but with a vibrant modern twist. With its atmospheric music, dramatic lighting and a delightful cast, this version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was beautiful to watch.
Other players were Laura Briden, Kelly Alexander, Ishaan Sood, Tessa Kerslake, Chloe Smith, Sebastian McGinley and Carissa Butler.
Karen Moss - Journalist, The Barking & Dagenham Post newspaper, Wednesday 9 April 2008