Stationed in the wood

3rd March 1995 at 00:00
Where better to stage A Midsummer Night's Dream? London's King's Cross is rich in parallel worlds, with its own ragged fairies cavorting round the station's environs clutching cans of extra-strength magic juice, their carousing largely unseen by commuting wage-slaves.

The Poor School and its Workhouse Theatre on Pentonville Road is in the very heart of the urban forest and offers rude mechanicals a first-class acting training. They fund their way through an intensive two-year course by keeping their day jobs and afterwards, who knows?

The theatre itself is barely as big as a suburban living room, and for the Dream, the audience are seated right there in the woods with the players, yet another parallel universe.

You can expect no frills in the Workhouse. The odd tree, branches and splodges of green paint set the scene. But so much the better for the words, and they are, after all, the play's chief delight. Oberon (Adam Tabraham) Titania (Jade Taylor) and Puck (Francis Morrissey) are the outstanding instrumentalists in this symphony of verse, and in this production they double up as Theseus, Hippolyta and Philostrate. Similarly,the rude mechanicals Flute, Snout, Snug and Starveling double up as Titania's fairies. Their buffoonery with Bottom (Richard Driscoll) and Quince (Andrew Novell) is a joy.

Hermia (Kate Setchell) and Helena (Jenny Kendall-Tobias) squeeze the very best out of the lovers' quarrel scene.

It is a pacy production and the rare bum notes do not intrude too much.

To March 11. Running time 2hrs 20 mins. Tickets: 0171 278 9783.

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