Transcript of a review from the April 10th 2010 edition
of the Blackmore Vale Magazine.

Bottom's Dream, Mere Lecture Hall

ALAN Poole's play Bottom's Dream was written for a youth theatre group, and takes a witty look at what was going on behind the scenes while the rude mechanicals of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream were rehearsing their play.

Last week members of Mere Amateur Dramatic Society performed the challenging play, as a tribute to their former member and treasurer, who died in 2008.

The 22-strong cast and complex settings are a challenge for any group, and in this, with its two directors (Adrienne Howell and Mary White) and two assistant directors (Mal Mallet and Maggie Durkee), it was sometimes hard to get the balance right.

A clever set brought the action into the auditorium, but the music and sound effects chosen added their own difficulties to the production.

Bottom's Dream includes Shakespeare's words for the Pyramus and Thisbe play, chunks of dialogue between Titania and Bottom, and a bit of the Theseus/Hippolyta/Philostrate exchange in choosing the play, but the rest is original.

It all starts with the watch patrolling the Athenian streets, quickly homing in on the bedroom of a snoring Nick Bottom and his nagging wife Ursula (here played by Bryan Sheppard and Mary White).
When Bottom gets back to sleep he has a rare dream ....

But as the men get to rehearsing their play; their wives are suspicious, specially Mrs Bottom. Peter Quince, whose idea it is to do a show for the duke and his new wife, is unmarried, so ,there is no-one to bother him.
Young Francis Flute (the very talented Ollie Cooper) is cast , as the woman, but his anxious mother (in another lovely performance by June Hewett) is convinced he is being seduced by some local floozy.
Mr and Mrs Tom Snout (Bill Pike and Pip Brown) can hardly bear to be parted; even though she is carrying his 15th child.
And Mrs Snug and Mrs. Starveling are none too sure about what their husbands are doing in the woods at night, either.
But, of course the men are telling the truth, and it's all a dream anyway.

Apart from the actors in the Pyramus and Thisbe play, the other Shakespearean characters are almost peripheral, flitting across the edges of the action. Maggie Durkee caught the perfect balance by playing the magical Titania for real.

The introduction of the Shakespearean young lovers, given to Mrs Bottom and the other women to dissect, was cleverly done.

It was an enjoyable romp which included several delightful cameos and some very good production ideas, but there really were too many prompts, which seemed to come from both the auditorium and the side of the stage.

G P-W.