Illyria have established a reputation in over the past six years at Lytham Hall for impeccable diction, wonderful comic timing and high energy productions. Their performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream illustrated all these strengths impeccably.
Artistic director Oliver Gray began his work as an open air theatre producer with much-loved Shakespeare comedy 25 years ago and his expertise was much in evidence as set, costumes, props, and music enhanced the play in a myriad of small ways.
The cast of five swapped roles from the courtiers to the Rude Mechanicals with relish. Emma Vickery was a high-octane volatile Puck, David Martin splendidly over-confident as Nick Bottom and beguiling as the ass, whilst Illyria newcomer Toby Webster captured Francis Flute perfectly.
A very responsive audience which included plenty of wide-eyed children at the front forgot the coolness of the evening, as both verbal and visual comedy poured forth in the second half particularly. Katherine Lunney excelled both as Titania and as a very northern Wall in the Pyramus and Thisbe finale and Will Bryant as Oberon took delight in every line of Shakespeare’s language.
The shelter of the trees around the arena was never more advantageous and the power and clarity of all five cast members was commendable throughout. This was a five star performance of Shakespeare’s wonderfully crafted comedy, both in interpretation and in execution.