Review: The Playground at South Hill ParkBy Caroline Cook
March 15, 2013
South Hill Park, Bracknell
Fans of Shakespeare might not be familiar with the moment in A Midsummer Night's Dream when a pouting Hermia turns to her lover Lysander and says 'Wot do you fink I am, some kind of slag?'.
It's Shakespeare, but definitely not as we know it.
2Heavy Productions has given the Bard's most popular comedy a thoroughly urban twist and come up with a show that is innovative and fun.
A playground replaces the forest, a gang of teens replace the Mechanicals and drugs replace magic flowers (although one could argue that might have been Shakespeare's subtext all along).
The plot remains the same but amusing little tweaks have been made by writer Darren Raymond, like the feud between Titania (Margaret Massaquoi) and Oberon (John Turner) arising from her reading a text message on his phone.
Dialogue is witty, moving from urban chat to Shakespearean poetry seamlessly, with modern sections cleverly retaining some of the rhythm of the classical lines.
Teen themes are also touched upon - peer pressure, sex, education frustrations, university - but each is swept past quickly. This is not a play which wants to be burdened with heavy subject matter, it is both fun and funny, as A Midsummer Night's Dream should be.
The cast took on their roles with gusto, with some hilarious moments like when Lysander (Louis Wellings) tries to woo Hermia (Aisha Carrington) to some ultra-smooth r'n'b, or when Batty (Nathan Hamblin), aka Bottom, dances with Titania, while wearing the famous horses head.
Working with young people from a wide range of backgrounds, 2Heavy is providing a fantastic opportunity for those who might otherwise not become involved in the arts, and it's showcasing some brilliant young talent to boot.
It would be great to see The Playground go on a schools tour around Berkshire as I imagine it's modern stance would do wonders for those struggling in the classroom.
Some Shakespeare enthusiasts are wary of meddling too much with the Bard's work but if productions like The Playground help to bring his genius to new audiences, it really can't be a bad thing at all.