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BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Shakespeare's Globe At Home

BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Shakespeare's Globe At Home

BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Shakespeare's Globe At Home There will be no outdoor theatre experiences this summer, but that hasn't stopped Shakespeare's Globe from revisiting one of the stalwarts of the summer season; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Dominic Dromgoole's 2013 production is a classic Elizabethan romp, full of silliness and fun.

Set in a mythical Athens, this is a light-hearted comedy about love, lovers, reality and fantasy. There is a real sense of joy and light-hearted energy as loyalties and relationships are tested in a magical forest.

When the action moves to the forest, there is a darker sense of danger, with a lack of delicate fairy-creatures with fluttering wings. These are more animal-like, with horns and muddy legs. There is also a real feeling of mischief and naughtiness, with the two couples chasing each other in muddy underwear. Olivia Ross is an angry Hermia, with Sarah MacRae as a spirited Helena. Luke Thompson and Joshua Silver are gently hapless toffs as Lysander and Demetrius.

Michelle Terry's Hippolyta is haughty and imperious, but shows huge contrast with a gentle and softer Titania who is more girlish and free. From the opening where Athenian battles Amazon, we see this is a reluctant coupling between Theseus and Hippolyta. The character too easily fades away in that opening scene but Terry makes sure her Hippolyta is a force to be reckoned with, keeping John Light's Theseus constantly reminded that she will never be subservient. Light puts in a very physical performance and has an interesting, subtly homoerotic relationship with Matthew Tennyson's Puck, who is nicely awkward and gawky.

The Mechanicals are in rare, hilarious form here, clog-dancing their way across the stage to Siân Williams' excellent choreography. They are led by a petulant Northern Pearce Quigley, who is a captivating, acerbic and rather camp Bottom. He displays a hilarious temper tantrum during rehearsals and seems unable to remember neither Quince's name, nor that of the play they are working on. Snug the Joiner (Edward Peel) is constantly hammering the rickety stage back together; the whole performance is chaotic and very funny.

At nearly three hours, this is a long version of the play, which arguably could have been edited without losing the essence of Shakespeare's lyrical genius. Despite the fact that it is very funny, there is a heavy reliance on slapstick in this particular production, leaving a lack of room for any subtlety.

The show engages the live audience, inviting raucous reactions and laughter. Inevitably the liveliness of what this atmosphere must have been like is dampened on screen, but nevertheless, this is a witty, warm and engaging show.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is available on Shakespeare's Globe YouTube Channel until 28 June

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

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