A collection of review excerpts from….
…Away into the woods we go. The setting is so right. We sit under the majestic clock tower nestled into the trees and greenery as the sun fades and the moon lights up the stage, or is that simply the excellent placement of a few very effective lights? It is as if we are in the woods with these fairies, not simply sitting watching them.
This is the real magic! Choosing to work with an older cast of fairies, director Michael Hurst has given a real twist and an unparalleled meaning to these mystical woodland creatures: the softness of their faces, the quiet presence that someone of an age can offer to the moment simply for all that they have seen and done in this world. We talk about fairy godmothers and reference them in literature, so why not a fairy grandmother? This is what I feel Hurst has innovatively given us tonight: a swag of revelling fairy grandmothers and fathers (played each night by different actors as they are a rotating cast), dressed in swathes of luxe fabric, the gents in black tie. There is only one word to describe them, which I borrow from Cole Porter: swellegant!
…There’s genius in Hurst’s casting too. Not everything works, but having the courage to involve the aptly named Marvellous Theatre Group, a cluster of (mostly) over 65’s, is a masterstroke. They’re simply wonderful – marvellous even – and they bring a visual dimension to the production that has to be seen to be believed. They play fairies. Not the ones Shakespeare wrote but as mean a bunch of nasties – well, grumpies – as you’ll meet any night on a any village green. They allow the play to have observers from within, but more than that, they sing, dance and give witness to what Fairyland 2045 might look like, a dark and sinister, seriously threatening place. I simply adore the images the actors have chosen for themselves: there’s an Alice Cooper, a bunch of Flappers, some refugees from television’s mock horrors The Addams Family and The Munsters and many more and they’re eviling up a storm.
…The supernatural side of the story is well conceived by Hurst. As the fairy king and queen, Oberon (Alistair Browning) and Titiana (Sheena Irving) perform with a majestic air appropriate to their otherworldly status. Using the seniors of the Marvellous Theatre Group, Hurst hasn’t cast your typically impish bunch as the fairy ensemble, but the fact that there’s something not quite right about them is what makes them perfect. They are Burton meets Lynch in a comic nightmare.