There have been many tributes paid to the Bard of Avon in this the 400th anniversary of his death, and many productions of his works, but none can have been more striking than the latest Sheffield People's Theatre production, "A Dream". This company, drawn from across the city, always brings something fresh to the stage - last year's "Camelot: The Shining City" extended beyond the stage onto the streets of the city itself - and for 2016 they brought one of Shakespeare's most loved comedies into the present and into the heart of South Yorkshire's principal metropolis.
As you may surmise, 'A Dream' is a reworking of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but this time set in the Northern General Hospital, with the mischievous Puck the pharmacist whose medications wreak havoc in A&E. A cast of doctors, surgeons and nurses interact with characters drawn from across the Bard's canon: an elderly man, Tony and his wife, who he describes as his queen, Cleo; a gay couple, Romeo & Jules, brought in with a suspected overdose; and Beatrice & Benedick, 30 years wed, arrive for Ben's knee replacement.
The show was witty, well-paced and wonderfully acted by the hundred-strong amateur cast which spans the generations from school-children to pensioners, with stunning sets and a great score. Chris Bush's script is a triumph and the 2 hours 35 never drags. Lois Pearson as Puck exudes energy and fun throughout, but the whole company, and indeed the whole city, shines in this performance.
A wonderfully entertaining evening! A shame the run ends tonight...