Magical Mesmerising Mysterious Midsummer! The Dreaming Review Lichfield Garrick July 31 2017

Lichfield Garrick: The Dreaming July 31 2017

2017 celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of that quintessential Shakespearean actor, David Garrick, a Lichfield man and after whom the Garrick theatre is, of course, named – and I’m sure DG would have loved to have taken part in the performance of The Dreaming last night!

The Dreaming is a musical retelling of the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and follows the original script closely (quite rightly so!) so if you are a Shakespearean fan you will be able to follow the plotlines quite easily. Character names have been changed but Oberon (Angel) Puck (Jack) and Bottom (Cheek) and more of the central characters are all easily identifiable.

The performance is the second at the Garrick of the Community Musical following on from 2016’s The Hired Man so most of the cast have very little, and in some cases none, acting experience with lots of stage debutants.

Bearing this in mind it is a super, sparkly, shimmering, spritely and sumptuous show! David Garrick was painted once by Joshua Reynolds as ‘Between Comedy and Tragedy’ but The Dreaming (aka A Midsummer Night’s Dream) is a typical Shakespearean comedy full of misunderstandings, knockabout characters, slapstick moments, word play and double-entendres.

The actors all put in a stellar performance and, as usual with amateur performances at the Garrick, throw themselves into their roles with enthusiasm, dedication, good humour and an obvious delight in just being on stage. Chris Gilbey-Smith as Angel/Oberon, Macie Barrington as Jack/Puck and Olivia Deane as Sylvia/Titania are all excellent and there are lots of laughs whenever David (Linden Iliffe) and Alexander (Elliot Scott-Lolley) are on stage particularly when scrapping over Jennifer – and watch out for the flying handbag undercut – ouch!

As usual though I just love the ensemble pieces when the whole cast fill the stage and everything comes to life – there are lots of very good young actors and dancers in the cast and it is always worth casting your eye across the whole ensemble and seeing if you can spot some stars of the future! This suns up the Garrick to me – a local theatre, with a young, local cast and a local audience – what could be better!

The music score by the super Howard Goodall, creator of TV theme tunes for the Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder and more) is catchy, uplifting, poignant, funny and, at times, achingly sad with the words provided by Charles Hart, lyricist for the Phantom of the Opera – it’s a winning combination. The song Jennifer is a highlight for me, it’s infectious, matches the script and actors perfectly and makes a couple of ‘appearances’!

The stage set is fabulous, creating the imagery of a spooky, secretive, mysterious wood (and Shakespeare loved his woods!) to perfection, the lighting and special effects are spot-on and there is a surprise at the end of the show that will make you jump out of your seats!

Lovely direction by Craig Sanders and Tim Ford who have clearly got the best out of a young and inexperienced cast (and the after show cast get together in the Green Room showed the obvious camaraderie, joy and pride of taking part)  with musical direction by Angharad Sanders. With the usual professionalism of the ‘behind the scenes’ team at the Garrick including Artistic Director Tim Ford everything ran smoothly from start to finish.

A great way to spend an evening of Shakespearean Musical Dreaminess in a theatre named after one of the finest exponents of his work – I’d definitely recommend The Dreaming and I’m sure David Garrick would too!