Reviewed by Nigel Chester
Running until Saturday 5 August 2017, “The Dreaming” is a community theatre production being staged at the Lichfield Garrick.
Enjoying theatre as I do, both professional and amateur, I wondered what the melding of both would be like. Bringing together stage and musical directors, who have worked in both the West End and on Broadway, with members of the local community.
As the audience hushed and The Dreaming began, it was obvious to see and hear that this was no amateur production. Jack, played by a very talented Macie Barrington, who, it is difficult to believe, is only ten years old, owned the stage. As we were introduced to many of the cast at this point, it was somewhat difficult to work out the who’s who.
The Dreaming is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream, no more are Oberon, Titania and Puck, so slavishly studied by many a generation of school children, but, on the Garrick’s stage we met Angel, Sylvia and Jack. I almost feel it would be advantageous to not have any preconception of the play. The Dreaming would make an amazing introduction to any child, of how a good story is a good story, never mind when it’s set, a toe dipping exercise into the wordy world of Shakespeare. The language of The Dreaming could be backward, strange and accented but it was easily understood, rather like listening to Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men! It was pure fun.
There are so many stand out features delivered on the Garrick’s stage it’s difficult to know where to start. This magical, wonderful, brilliantly bizarre evening’s entertainment was technically tight, with outstanding lighting and stage set, the moon which shone so brightly on the midsummer mayhem is simply exquisite and the costume and make-up breath-taking. LED lights, brightly coloured scarves, tulle and tie-dye, grace many of the woodland folk. Somewhat more malevolent were bare chested masked followers of Angel, mischief was their game.
Elliot Scott-Lolley, a familiar face at the Garrick, was totally believable as Alexander, one of the lovers’ subject to the woodlander’s mischief, his performance beautifully bounced off Linden Lliffe (David)
There were many delightful songs during this outstanding play, but “Jennifer” was comic genius, brought to life by the Jennifer in question, Georgie Sandland. Not all the vocals were equal, but, all were valiant, the outstanding voice of the night belonging to the soprano Olivia Deane (Sylvia).
Following the original, there was a play within a play. The Dreaming sees the Reverend Plum bringing together the villagers to perform their play, “The Ballad of St George”, before they start rehearsals, we are treated to a type of morris dance, the cuckoo song, it was a complete joy and the audience did laugh.
I can honestly say that when the Reverends crew performed at the end of The Dreaming, their interpretation of the dragon being slain by St George, the audience were rocking in their seats. There were one or two umbrellas used here, oh my, I will never look at an umbrella the same again.
This play took the ordinary and made it extraordinary, the contents of a child’s ball pool became our woodland, the community became stars worthy of a West End stage. The Dreaming, at the Garrick is not only the stuff of dreams but is also the stuff of memories.
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £17.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Dreaming is at the Lichfield Garrick from 31 July to 5 August 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre, Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR | 01543 412121