Having studied and seen several adaptations of this play, I was definitely intrigued to see how RUDS would incorporate the 90s into their production. Their clever rendition of the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’, along with ‘rave’ scenes and constant flurries of bright colours and glitter, proved the incorporation of the 90s to be a success. The homosexual twist resulting from a female portrayal of Lysander complemented the presence of sexuality as a pivotal attribute of the 90s era.
Having seen other productions of the play, I recognised creative approaches borrowed from recent productions of the comedy to uphold a modern feel. The use of the fold-out tent in the forest and Puck’s use of a water pistol are artistic ideas I have seen in adaptations at the Globe, and they proved successful in this production.
The actor playing Nick Bottom was a particular hit with the audience, as seen from the bursts of laughter that resulted from a perfected depiction of the character. Comedic moments were subtle, successful, and never overly done, which is a testimony to both the directing and production of the performance, as well as the skill in Tess Agus’ performance.
The acting skills of Katherine Gardiner and Riddell Erridge particularly stood out. Gardiner’s portrayal of Hermia was both strong and playful, whilst Erridge made the doubling of acting two roles (Hippolyta and Titania) seem effortless. Coral Richard’s depiction of Puck was packed full of energy and humour: her engagement with the audience made the plot all the more captivating, and her delivery of the epilogue was outstanding.
With that being said, the standard of acting from the society as a collective was impressive and well received by the audience. The skill in keeping as close to the play’s language is brave and commendable, and did not appear a problem for the cast. Their ability to recite large sections of dialogue with ease and emotion is a testimony to their ability and commitment.
Whilst the acting skills, lighting, and music were all of a high standard, the only ‘fault’ I observed was that set design and backdrops were limited and minimal. Whether this was to ensure the acting took centre-stage, or it resulted from a lack of time and/or finance, the fact that the actors did not need to hide behind flashy props and bravado is notable.
Finally, the most important thing I want to mention is that the three performances took place amid essays and deadlines, and the dedication to refine this production to the level that they did is exceptional. These students managed and dedicated their time for their love of performance and to add to the culture and life at the University.
The Spark were delighted to be invited to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream and will not be missing RUDS’ rendition of Cabaret. Keep up to date on all of RUDS projects on http://www.ruds.co.uk/