Thursday, December 1, 2011

TCD Department of Drama’s Debut 2011, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin
Nov 30-Dec 2

I don’t often write about student and amateur productions here, mainly because it requires readjusting my criteria. Participants in such productions may not necessarily want to measure themselves against “professional” performers. We have to consider their reasons for performing, which may possibly be more social or community-based than on the economic necessity of a trained performer who has chosen a livelihood of the stage. This is not to say that there is a differential between either student/amateur and professional in terms of creativity and who is capable of being creative. In fact, creativity can sometimes be better nurtured in non-“professional” environments, which I argued in my review of NUIG Dramsoc’s The Hero Returns.

The production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream currently running in the Samuel Beckett Theatre is undoubtedly the most impressive student production I’ve seen. A component of the Trinity Drama department’s Debut series – in which graduating directors are given an opportunity to produce on a large scale, supported by sizeable budgets, casts and production crews along with academic guidance – Rosanna Mallinson’s Midsummer feels more like a lost Fringe play.

The fading in and out of a jazz-era piano and a vocal nod to Nina Simone by a Sixties-dressed Titania implement the musical genre as an ornament of the production’s design. Furthermore, ‘jazz’ is a very apt description of the approach of this piece to its source. Mallinson has taken the classical “scale” of Shakespeare’s comedy and used it to create an original, mischievous arrangement  of her own which overlooks hardly anything. With the script condensed to an hour, she manages to cater the essentials without glossing over any opportunity for comedic flourish. The cast are well-schooled in humour and charm, and all deserve and take their individual moments to own the spotlight. A radical design trades in fairy wings for military rifles, and a serene forest for a radioactive dystopia. Coincidentally, THEATREclub designer Doireann Coady is listed as production manager, and there is somewhat of a Twenty Ten similarity in how the screwball stage is uncluttered while possibly threatening. This is not to overlook the members of the design team who have all demonstrated a competency in interweaving these different aesthetics cohesively.

This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is entertaining and ambitiously designed. It also introduces some names to keep in mind for the future. Well worth the admission charge of 8 euro (3 concession). Let me know what you think.


  1. thank you so much for such a glowing review, it is so very exciting to see that ones work has been appreciated and understood by someone else, and to have my ideas clarified from anothers perspective. I never thought of words like dystopia for it, or that I was jazzing up shakespeare, but once you said it it became clear that was what I had been doing, I just hadn't formulated the words for it. So thanks again so very much!
    best wishes
    Rosanna Mallinson

  2. Cheers for a good show Rosanna. Hope to see more!