Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Los Angeles

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Broad Stage

Also see Terry's review of Recall and Sharon's review of Floyd Collins

The Cast
When I first read that the Broad Stage was going to be presenting a new co-production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Bristol Old Vic and Handspring Puppet Company (the folks who helped make War Horse the marvel it is), I was excited to see it. It sounded like a promising combination. Unfortunately, the result is seriously uneven in quality, effective neither as a display of puppetry nor of what fools we mortals be.

Naomi Cranston, Akiya Henry, Alex Felton and Kyle Lima are amusing as the quartet of star-crossed lovers, alternatively smitten and smiting. Miltos Yerolemou is boisterously hilarious as Bottom, often riding a contraption that lives up to the character's name. Colin Michael Carmichael is funny as the inappropriately affectionate playwright Quince, Fionn Gill is wonderfully awkward playing Wall, and Saikat Ahamed makes a sweetly timid Lion. Saskia Portway and David Ricardo-Pearce, unfortunately, are curiously bland as Titania and Oberon.

The problems with this show seem to lie in its conception. The idea of combining the fantastical nature of Shakespeare's play with puppetry is a good one, but director Tom Morris' execution of that idea falters. Firstly, there are far fewer puppets than one might imagine there would be, and the ones that are there aren't particularly special. The idea of Titania and Oberon just carrying around large masks above their heads is especially feeble.

The pacing and inventiveness of the staging feels tedious in the first half, but markedly better in the second half. Morris does have some inspired ideas, from the device that turns Bottom into an actual ass to using boards to represent the forest. Overall, however, this show is a misfire, best exemplified by its presentation of Puck as a conglomeration of garden implements. It isn't an interesting puppet or intriguing visual, and all of the character's personality is drained away. A production of Midsummer that can't make Puck work has a serious problem.

A Midsummer Night's Dream plays at the Broad Stage, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica, through April 19, 2014. For tickets and information, see

Bristol Old Vic in association with Handspring Puppet Company presents A Midsummer Night's Dream, written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Tom Morris. Puppet Design, Fabrication & Direction Handspring Puppet Company; Lighting Design Philip Gladwell; Composer Dave Price; Sound Design Christopher Shutt; Costume Design Katerina Hicken.

Snug/Puck: Saikat Ahamed
Quince/Peaseblossom: Colin Michael Carmichael
Helena: Naomi Cranston
Lysander: Alex Felton
Snout/Puck/Moth: Fionn Gill
Hermia: Akiya Henry
Flute/Philostrate/Cobweb: Christopher Keegan
Demetrius: Kyle Lima
Hippolyta/Titania: Saskia Portway
Theseus/Oberon: David Ricardo-Pearce
Starveling/Puck/Mustardseed: Lucy Tuck
Bottom/Egeus: Miltos Yerolemou

Photo: Simon Annand

- Terry Morgan