Sheridan Smith "Beguiling," David Walliams "Smarmy" In 'Midsummer Night's Dream'

Michael Grandage's updated take on William Shakespeare's centuries old comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, has finally premiered at London's Noel Coward theatre. Set in the 60s, the psychedelic and confusing aspects of the play work well with the bright costumes, joint smoking and dress up games; the fairies are reimagined as a group of stoner, free-loving hippies with actress Sheridan Smith as Titania at the helm.

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith's Shakespearean Performance Is A Delight.

The story, written in the 16th century, follows the exploits of four young Athenian lovers who become embroiled in a romantic mismatching after they enter the woodland realm of a civilisation of mischievous and meddling fairies.

Sheridan Smith, known for her lead role in the staged Legally Blonde, is praised to the heavens by just about every reviewer who's been to see the show this week. The Independent congratulates the 32 year-old actress for "evincing a splendidly fiery spirit," though Padraic Delaney's Oberon is criticised as "insufficiently imposing."

Sheridan Smith Midsummer Nights Dream
No One Has A Bad Word To Say About Sheridan.

However, The Telegraph's Charles Spencer believes that it is Walliams' performance that mars the play, accusing the Little Britain actor of bringing too much of the crude BBC drama into Shakespeare than was necessary. Walliams' styles is described as "smarmy, supercilious demeanour that repels delighted mirth," "curiously chilly" where "warmth, bluster and heart" should be.

Unfortunately for comedian Walliams, The Independent's Paul Taylor agrees: "David Walliams stays well within the borders of Little Britain," incorporating his well-worn "sibilantly camp" persona.

David Walliams
David Walliams' Performance As Received Mixed Reviews.

The Guardian's Michael Billington is more positive regarding Walliams' outing as Bottom, saying "Walliams has the knack of instinctively connecting with an audience," who "delights" in his self-assured performance. Billington also praises set designer Christopher Oram's "huge lunar backdrop" and Smith's performance as Titania/Hippolyta is yet again lauded as "delightful," remarking that she "queens it over her followers with fiery independence." Susannah Fielding's Hermia and Katherine Kingsley's Helena are described as "excellent."

Overall, purist Shakespeareans may grapple with this updated, swinging sixties take on the woodland tale and those who take issue with Walliams' default camp character best avoid this one. However, it looks as though director Michael Grandage has got a lot right with this joyous and celebratory reinvigoration of one of the Bard's most loved plays.


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Tags: Sheridan Smith - David Walliams

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