THE annual BOVTS tour is always eagerly anticipated, bringing the newest students from the world famous theatre school to their audience in a production designed to be played in a variety of venues around the region.
This year’s, of course, has to be Shakespeare, and director Christopher Scott has chosen A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has also transmogrified the Athens of the original to Saltaire – perhaps nudged towards Yorkshire by Pyramus’s line, “Oh dainty duck, O dear.”
So the lord Theseus is the master of the mill, about to marry the French Hippolyta, the Rude Mechanicals are workers from the mill and the lovers wealthy youngsters from the thriving town.
It all starts IN the mill, with beat boxing from the ensemble indicating the workings of the machines, and ends with a burgomasque of clogging and work songs. In between this brilliantly effective bookending is a familiar story unfolded by an exceptional young company.
I saw it right at the start of the tour, at South Petherton, where an enthralled audience enjoyed every minute.
The mirror stories follow the lives of lovers Lysander (the loveable Rudolphe Mdlongwa), Demetrius (the elegant Ellis Duffy), Hermia (an energetic and passionate Emily Williams) and Helena (the beautiful and statuesque Eleanor House), and the fairy royals, Oberon (Ray Sesay) and Titania, meeting together on one magical night in the woods.
Titania (Alice Kerrigan, also playing the hilariously timid Lion) has upset her husband by taking a page boy into her coterie, in which she is surrounded by lusty male fairies. Oberon’s servant is the feisty and neurotic Puck (Laura Soper), he who wreaks havoc with a combination of accident and malice.
Between them are the mill workers, who want to put on a show for Theseus’ wedding and happen into the fairy glen for their rehearsals. In this production Bottom the Weaver is played by a woman, the excellent and preening Georgia Frost, and once she’s transformed by Puck into a donkey, she immediately enamours the drugged Titania. The ass head is a wonder of steampunk invention, and delighted the young audience.
The verse is well spoken, and enhanced by the perfectly held Yorkshire accent used here in a context often missing.
This is one of the best BOVTS summer tours I have seen in many years, and well worth travelling to see.
Photographs by Toby Farrow of Farrows Creative
The tour continues on Friday 3rd at Wedmore Village Hall, Saturday 4th at Dulverton Town Hall, Tuesday 7th at Wells Little Theatre, Wednesday 8th at Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre, Friday 10th at Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, Saturday 11th at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, Tuesday 14th at Bridport Arts Centre, Wednesday and Thursday 15th and 16th June at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes, Friday 17th at the Beehive Arts Centre, Honiton, Saturday 18th at the Armstrong Hall, Thornbury, Tuesday 21st at the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre in Taunton, Wednesday 22nd at the Regal Theatre in Minehead and Saturday 25th June at Frampton Village Hall in Dorset in a visit sponsored by Artsreach. Other dates have also been arranged.
For full details, visit the website, www.oldvic.ac.uk