Restless Dream proves rather tiring - The Evesham Observer

Restless Dream proves rather tiring

Evesham Editorial 15th Feb, 2024   0

IF you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a few surprises but not necessarily the sort you may have been seeking.

Eleanor Rhode’s ‘Dream’ is packed with magic and trickery, surreality and colour but ultimately ends up buried beneath the crushing weight of unrestrained technology, volume and scattergun ideas.

The woods abound with spirits darting like ball-lightning among the high globes that form the bulk of the design. LED lights, fog, trapdoor exits, floating platforms and more create a never-ending cascade of visual treats against which the characters battle for attention. And boy do they battle.

Sections of this production are funny, very funny. The play within a play at the end is a riot from start to finish. The Wall could well become the most sought-after part for comic actors after this and this evergreen bit of silliness is played for every laugh you could imagine.

But for sizeable portions of its almost three hours the undoubted comedy comes at a price requiring a heavy sacrifice. The poetry all but disappears and does any semblance of nuance or any wit and wordplay. Instead the volume is cranked up, the delivery is never below breakneck and the characters resort to any running, jumping and falling over they can grab.

Mathew Baynton catches the eye as Bottom and, almost alone in the cast, manages to deliver comedy calmly and without recourse to the truly manic (final Pyramus scene excepted of course). It’s a very creditable performance encompassing wit, clarity and timing.

Elsewhere the ruthless pursuit of laughs leaves too many offering performances that start off wacky and just head off the scale. The scene where love goes awry between the quartet of lovers descends into twenty-minutes of shrieking, sitcom delivery and moves straight from Saturday afternoon tag-team wrestling. On ladders of course.

It could be argued that the number of laughs always justifies the butchery done to the poetry and rhythm of the lines, but some balance would be nice.

The tricks just keep coming. Down from the rafters come – in no particular order – petals, confetti, shiny paper and, perhaps because someone found them, a cubic metre or two of multi-coloured jelly balls. Add in some pleasingly excellent songs, a truly awful rap parody and a West End musical finale which turns out not to be a finale, and you’ve probably covered half.

If laughter is what you’re after it’s there in the mad characters, the double entendres and even the obligatory RSC oversized Y-fronts. Perhaps in the end that’s enough.



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