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Belgrade review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Belgrade, to June 20.

The Oddsocks group celebrate their 30th anniversary promising to mark the beginning of summer with a “festival of music, magic, and mayhem”, and in this accessible, fun-filled performance there is something for all the family, particularly laughter. The troupe interact with the members of the audience as they take their seats, creating a relaxed atmosphere, before launching into a frenzied and high-energy romp through Shakespeare’s comedy. From then on the play is at full-throttle - with quick costume changes, physical theatre, musicianship, and excellent comedic timing. The amateur theatrics of Peter Quince’s ragtag band of labourers are thoroughly entertaining – Andy Barrow’s booming voice is unwavering in his jolly portrayal of Bottom, his antics anchored by clever asides and improvisation, as well as a palpable on-stage chemistry with Alex Wadham as Demetrius.

The interactions between the four lovers in the play are excellently realised in energetic and cleverly thought-out scenes which break out into the audience at times and are underpinned by some lovely comedic touches.

The strength of this production lies in the apparently chaotic presentation, and the frenetic pace complements the quick wit and improvisational skills of the performers.

However, although Andy Barrow provides funny moments in his second role as Oberon, the interactions with Hippolyta and Puck does not do enough to highlight the character relationships and power dynamics which lead to the events in the woods. Consequently the elements of magic and the supernatural are somewhat lost amongst the chaos.

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