Robert Hugill – www.planethugill.com
Middle Temple Hall‘s connection to Shakespeare dates back to the playwright’s lifetime when we know that As You Like It was performed there, so that the hall is the only surviving venue we have where Shakespeare’s plays were performed in his lifetime. Temple Musicnow puts on a highly regarded concert series in the hall, so in celebration of the Shakespeare 400 anniversary, they presented a performance of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn’s incidental music, we caught the second performance on 3 May 2016.
Seeing the way text and music interacted was fascinating. The larger intermezzos set the scene and each had a little in the way of action so that we were not simply sitting listening to music, whilst the extra smaller pieces were all designed to enhance the text. The melodramas for Puck and for Oberon worked superbly, enhancing the magical element though of course presupposing a rather stylised way of declaiming the text. Using Mendelssohn’s music has far more presence than a director might wish for in a modern production and this conditioned the overall style, making the performance more traditional, as well as making the actors declaim the text in the melodramas in a way they might not otherwise have done.