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A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Noel Coward Theatre

September 23, 2013

The fourth play in Michael Grandage‘s 2013 season at the Noel Coward Theatre is Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMMER NIGHTS DREAM starring Sheriden Smith as Titania/Hipolita and David Walliams as Bottom. I like the design and the brevity of this production with cuts in the full original text and fast delivery meaning the whole play moves along at an exciting pace.

Sheriden Smith is sensational supported by a very talented Padraic Delaney as Oberon/Theseus and a very sexy set of half naked fairies. Continuing the half naked sexy theme, Sam Swainsbury (one of my favourite Shakespearean actors) as Lysander and Stefano Braschi as Demetrius are soon in the woods in their underwear fighting over Hermia (Susannah Fielding) and/or Helena (Katherine Kingsley). The sub plot with the four Athenian lovers works particularly well. The sub plot with the mechanicals is also staged very well with talented actors including Richard Dempsey (another favourite Shakespearean actor) and the very cute Alex Large. I even thought I was going to enjoy David Walliams’ Frankie Howerd inspired performance of Bottom in his first scene.

HOWEVER. Frankie Howerd was adorable in his comedy on stage by being acutely conscious of hiding his true sexuality and very protective of his fragile self-image creating funny camp empathetic characters that never crossed the line. David Walliams has no such humility and it is his ego which fuels the character. His Bottom is a sinister sexual predator with a creepy egotistical unpleasant nature. He lacks that subtle tongue in cheek quality of the “carry On” type British humour. I genuinely felt very uncomfortable watching his predatory behaviour with the younger actors on stage.

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