Gamblers and prostitutes grace the stage of this modern day performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream as the audience enters the theatre.
The setting is stark and industrial, the stage home to just one simple white sofa and chair.
Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is depicted here as a gang leader, who has the power to demand Hermia marries Demetrius, following the wishes of her father Egeus, despite Hermia declaring her love for Lysander.
The scene for the woods is equally barren, apart from a collection of wooden chairs hanging from the ceiling, which bob up and down to depict the trees and bushes where Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena scramble through in pursuit of true love.
There are plenty of strong performances in this enchanting production, but most notably from Lucy Briggs-Owen as Helena, although she has a tendency to over do it at times with her fidgeting and lip biting and open-mouthed expressions of disbelief.
The choreography is excellent, from the dancing fairies to a superb quarrel scene between Helena and Hermia as they dash across stage to fight over their lovers.
However, it is Marc Wootton, as Bottom, who steals the show with an excellent comedic performance as the hapless weaver who is turned into an ass after being enchanted by Puck, servant to Oberon, King of the Fairies.
There are plenty of wonderful slapstick moments as Bottom and the rest of his enthusiastic acting troope, the Mechanicals, portrayed here as workmen, rehearse for their performance for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.
The stage-struck workmen deliver an hilarious show for the happy couples and leave the audience crying with laughter.
However, the gangland theme, so strong at the beginning of Nancy Meckler’s adaption, isn’t really followed through to the end and you are left wondering whether this powerful Duke, so content to marry his lover Hippolyta, was ever really a powerful leader at all.
* Running time, two hours and 50 minutes. Until November 5.
* Verdict: *****