Thurs 2nd March - Sat 4th March & Thurs 9th March - Sat 11th March 1978
Directed by Jaki Curtis
"The course of true love never did run smooth." - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Believed to have been written around 1595, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. The story follows four young Athenian lovers (Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Hermia), and the complications which arise when the object of a man's desire is betrothed to another. Hermia loves Lysander and Helena loves Demetrius, but Demetrius is supposed to be marrying Hermia. When the Duke of Athens tries to enforce the marriage, the lovers take refuge in the woods outside the city, and walk into the midst of a dispute between the king and queen of the fairies. But they are not alone. So too, does a group of amateur actors rehearsing a play. Between the angry fairies, the bumbling players and the dazed lovers, flies Puck armed with a love potion capable of making anyone fall for the first person they set eyes upon, no matter how unsuitable.
This play was only the second production that Bench Theatre staged in their new home of the Havant Arts Centre (now known as The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre) in East Street, Havant. The conversion of the building from its former use as the Town Hall was an ongoing project at this time and the programme notes beg the audience's forbearance during the transition; "The conversion of the Council Chamber into a theatre continues apace and despite the obvious upheavals, the extra wear and tear on the participants, concerts, recitals and full-blooded productions are miraculously presented. We hope you will overlook the temporary inconvenience and enjoy our performance. As Quince says 'If we offend it is with our good will. That you should think we come not to offend but with good will. To show our simple skill, that is the true beginning of our end.'
|First Fairy||Janet Simpson|
|Stage Manager||Tim Mahoney|
|Make-up||David Penrose |
|Art work & Make-up||Chris Shaw|
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is one of the small group of plays in which Shakespeare appears not to have depended upon already existing narrative material. In this, as in other respects, it is one of his most individual creations.
The Bench Theatre's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' in Havant is truly comic - mostly by design but sometimes unintentionally. At the Arts Centre, a small audience laughed uproariously, above all at the antics of John Scadding as Bottom and his crew of artisans. Far from being the tiresome clowning which can weary modern audiences, the Bench Theatre's mechanicals scenes are breathtakingly funny. The Bench's fairies are weird-featured and menacing, and full of the movement which is characteristic of this production. Producer Jaki Curtis's experience in the visual liveliness of the play. She has made full use of the Arts Centre's new stage and raised auditorium.
Titania and Oberon (Jenny Jones and Spokey Wheeler) have studied well the aggressive bickering of a couple who are fundamentally indivisible. Unfortunately the two pairs of Athenian lovers are less credible. At times their acting was not so different from that of the mechanicals, woodenly playing a Greek tragedy. It was a tendency of all four lovers to lay too much emphasis on unimportant words and phrases - to wrench out of simple lines agonised proclamations which were inappropriate.
The Bench Theatre added a line to its history last night - with no pleasure at all. Jill Sawyer, who should have played Puck, was too ill to appear, and Jaki Curtis took the role - reading the part. She managed quite splendidly to move with the vivacity she has passed on to the rest of the cast. Peter Mahoney designed the versatile set, which did much to create an atmosphere of summer on a wet and wintery night. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' will be played again tonight and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week
The News, 4th March 1978