Nicola Lisle enjoys a sparkling summer production of the Shakespeare comedy classic

Rain disrupted play on Tuesday night and Tomahawk Theatre had to hastily decamp from Oxford Castle courtyard to the considerably less romantic setting of the New Baptist Church in Bonn Square.

This necessitated a 20-minute delay to the start of the performance. In a cruel irony, by the time the interval arrived the sun was shining blithely; clearly, the weather was in mischievous mood.

But there was mischief a-plenty going on in the church, too, as Tomahawk’s merry band of thespians threw themselves into this joyous romp with immense energy and enthusiasm, seemingly undeterred by the last-minute change of venue. This is a particularly vibrant and funny production of what is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest comedy, with director Alex Nicholls teasing out the general silliness and mayhem to great effect. Eleonora Aldegheri’s choreography is a joy, and the eerie sounds produced by musicians Francisco Vera and Henry Ruddock add greatly to the ‘otherworldliness’ of the fairy capers.

Dan Abrams gives a stand-out performance as a very acrobatic and impish Puck, and his antics are some of the highlights of the production. Edward Blagrove is equally outstanding as the hapless Bottom, wonderfully gormless with his ass’s head in the fairy bower and comically boisterous in his starring role in ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’. The other mechanicals are well handled, too, with Colin Burnie’s Flute/Thisbe a particular delight.

Joseph Adams strides around with an unmistakeable air of authority in the dual roles of Theseus and Oberon, while Jennifer Riley Smith is a charming Hippolyta and a delightfully flirtatious Titania, and Ruth Blackwell and Katya Adams impress as Peaseblossom and Cobweb. Katherine Rose Comery and Jessica Reilly are suitably passionate as Hermia and Helena, and Alistair Nunn and Jacob Clark are a lively pair as rival suitors Demetrius and Lysander.

This is a hugely enjoyable and compelling piece of theatre, which sparkles as brightly as Puck’s fairy dust. Definitely one of the ‘must-see’ productions in Oxford this summer.

Tomahawk Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Oxford Castle
Until July 19, 7.30pm
Box office: Call 01865 260 666 or visit