Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Groundlings Theatre, Southsea

As Bottom, Steve Arnold (centre) made an ass of himself ' but in this case, literally.
As Bottom, Steve Arnold (centre) made an ass of himself ' but in this case, literally.
Picture: Shutterstock

REVIEW: Beauty and The Beast at Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

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When I walked out of the Groundlings after their latest production, there were a lot of things to process.

Did a dog really lick Steve Arnold of Corrie fame in the face? Why was there a silent, blue-faced child in a turban? Would the bard approve of his verse being used in a rock song? Do fairies wear sunglasses? Is it possible to use bedsheets more creatively?

At this point I realised the inmates had the keys to the asylum

In many ways, the cast and crew delivered a performance so surreal, it captured the dream-like quality of the play. Unfortunately, it was largely by accident – the theatrical equivalent of seeing Jesus’ face burnt onto your toast.

Creative licence was taken to new heights when Puck became a ‘rock god’, but not before a cast member’s pet dog was used as a prop during Midsummer’s play-within-a-play.

It stole the show in a brief cameo appearance, barking at the actors, running around the stage and licking the star.

It was like watching an Elizabethan You’ve Been Framed, minus the rotten tomatoes. At this point I realised the inmates had the keys to the asylum.

Jack Tutt as Puck was the glue that tried to stick the performance together, and Steve Arnold drew on his panto experience to play Bottom.

The period costume was well executed and the cast’s energy commendable – especially in the face of many empty seats – but too often this bubbled over into melodrama.

The first half was over-long and the second completely bonkers, but for sheer oddity I would go and see this again.

Who knows what the dog will do next? Steve – watch out.

Until May 16.