The delightful garden of Balliol College is the starting point for this year’s artistic collaboration between Thelma Holt and the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Under director Jessica Edwards, they are touring with a very entertaining production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

While the new Dream at Stratford shifts the action to the 1960s, the students go back to what must seem, for them, an even remoter period of history, that of post-war Britain with its demob suits and New Look fashion. This lends extra charm to what is always a visually pleasing production.

Aurally pleasing, too, with period songs interspersed with a new score from composers Laurence Osborn and Jon McLeod, and full justice done by the actors to the glorious poetry of the play.

The scenes at the fairy court are particularly adroitly handled with the towering Joel Phillimore as Oberon, Lucie Dawkins as Titania and Sarah Perry’s Puck equipped with an acrobatic sidekick in Joe Funnell.

There is admirable work as well from the thespian mechanicals, especially Chris Wallwork as the bumptious Bottom, Max Gill’s camply histrionic Flute and Bevil Luck who makes Snout’s turn as Wall truly hilarious.

Much laughter, with occasional moments of sadness, is also supplied by the quartet of young lovers played by Chloe Wicks (Helena), Liz Bichard (Hermia), Matthew Monaghan (Demetrius) and Rob Hoare Nairne (Lysander).

The last will perhaps remember, though, as the tour progresses, that it is unwise of him to plant kisses so firmly on the mouth of his beloved. As he will have discovered at the performance I saw, the easy transferability of bright red lipstick is another feature of 1940s life.

Evening performances at Balliol run from tomorrow until Saturday, when there is also a matinee. Then the production tours to London, Guildford and Stratford. For full information go to