A Midsummer Night's Dream
Bridge Theatre Summer 2019
A Midsummer Night's
Dream is a happy, celebratory comedy. This is a happy, celebratory
And so, while there are
things about it that might upset
a Shakespeare purist (and about which I'll grumble a bit further on),
the main thing to say is that it is a lot of fun and highly
(Do we need a plot
summary? A bunch of people run into
some fairies in the woods, confusions result, and everything turns
out all right.)
In some ways Nicholas
Hytner's production is an
anthology of other people's ideas. Turning the fairies into airborne
acrobats hanging and dancing on silks is a salute to Peter Brook's
legendary 'circus' production from the 1970s, while imagining Puck as
a punk rocker was common in the 1990s.
and Hippolyta/Titania is almost orthodoxy, as is imagining the
mechanicals as a mixed-gender modern group.
This is a promenade
production, which means that some of the audience mill about freely
in the same space as the actors (guided discreetly by audience
Hytner himself used a
similar staging last year in Julius
Caesar, and more effectively then than now, the audience functioning
as the Roman crowd, while here they are just groundlings, as at the
The biggest directorial
intervention comes with some
gender-bending that seems almost pointless, except that it generates
some easy laughs – which may be sufficient justification.
give away the biggest switch except to say that it seems to do
particular violence to the play's characterisations and internal
logic. But it's worth noting that the romantic confusions among the
four young lovers include a bit of boy-boy and girl-girl action.
Among the performers,
Gwendoline Christie doesn't seem able to find
much difference between Hippolyta and Titania, though Oliver Chris as
Theseus and Oberon is
given the opportunity to switch between cold imperiousness and broad
David Moorst is an
engagingly disrespectful Puck and Hammed
Animashaun is enjoyably outgoing and unflappable as Bottom.
Hainsworth catches the voice of a stroppy teenager as Hermia while
Tessa Bonham Jones suggests there's more backbone to Helena than even
the girl herself realises, and I assume that it was a directorial
choice to have Paul Adeyefa and Kit Young play Demetrius and Lysander
as interchangeably practically identical.
With most of the action
taking place on platforms popping up or rolling on amid the
groundlings, Bunny Christie's design concept of a bunch of beds is
obviously inspired by the play's title.
But neither the symbols
themselves nor the supposed hint that the action is all one or more
dreams are ever developed, and nothing would have been lost without
But forget my pedantic cavils. Go with an open mind and open heart and have a lovely time.
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Review - A Midsummer Night's Dream - Bridge Theatre 2019