A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Puzzlewood

Going to see a play outside on a rainy day might not sound like the best of ideas, especially when it involves some travelling to get to. However in this case the play, Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the location of Puzzlewood seem a chance too good to pass up.

Puzzlewood is a piece of ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean. With moss-covered boulders, banks and huge trees, this is the stuff of fairy tales. Just the place for the company Butterfly Theatre Company to use as a backdrop for their walkabout abridged version of A Midsummer Nights Dream. The company specialise in putting on performances in unusual outdoor settings, such as castles, caves and woods.

The show is less than an hour and a half, making it very accessible for children in particular. The play, directed beautifully by Aileen Gonalves, is delivered with loads of energy despite the fact that this is the third show today and it has been a rainy day. Luckily there’s a break in the clouds for this 4 pm performance.

There was plenty of fairy mischief evident – the wet and slightly muddy conditions did little to dampen the spirits of the characters of Shakespeare’s comedy – with trickery unbounded and interaction that made us feel part of the action. Elliot Thomas playing Bottom was a firm favourite with his agile expressions although all the cast were very good.

Having stepped into the role of watching and reviewing this play at short notice we (myself and two children) were pleased to have come along. Eva aged 10 describes the play as good and very playful. Liliom Valter, age 12 writes;

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream was really magical. Puzzlewood was a really wonderful place to see it. I think the actors were very expressive. And I am not a great fan of Shakespeare but this was amazing.’

Go see it if you can.

Find out more about Butterfly Theatre Company here


  • Review by Francesca Ward
  • Image by David Broadbent

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