The Woolton Irregulars present this look at an amateur group, with its share of ‘professionals’, who are working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Various relationships undergo transformations, echoing action in Shakespeare’s play, but with contemporary spins that bring some of the darker aspects of the fooling about into sharper focus.
Despite a rather high-voiced, unsupported starting soliloquy from the director character about how much she hates actors and why, which nods rather a lot to clichés and not at all to the non-actor politics of amateur groups, this proves to be an entertaining piece, with some fair acting. The characters go on to bear out all that the director has been complaining about, but there is some depth to their quirks and relationships and the humour of the piece is well served.
There is pathos, too, in lost dreams – with a character who once had a season with the RSC having particularly poignant moments – and the mess that can be created as people chase lust and love, the Puck character providing plenty of sexual comedy. Basic lighting, with a change at one point to give a red glow to dramatic proceedings, allows the setting of a rehearsal room, with chairs the sole furniture and the fourth wall put to use briefly as set being decorated by the simple use of a paint pot and brush.
In Your Dreams includes bitching, sleeping around, clashing egos, unrequited love, drug-induced revelations and a bit of a Meisner exercise (an acting technique). It has some connection to the reality of many would-be actors’ lives, though it does not find a way to show the joys of rehearsal and performance that keep people striving to return to the stage. The comedy covers a somewhat nasty core, and the resolutions, while they may seem more in keeping with today’s standards, have a melancholy feel.
In all, In Your Dreams is a relatively short piece that provides entertainment, decently played, some of it very funny, points quite moving, and other parts more disturbing.
22 – 27 August, 21:45 (22:35) @ Greenside