You can’t claim to be a ‘theatre person’ and not really like Shakespeare. And I do like Shakespeare, but I find a lot of his plays hard work; they tend not to be the easiest to understand. And hence I have set a ‘rule’ for myself that I will only see the plays I know well- which in practice means the ones I studied at school (this is not set in stone, but it’s worked well for me since I implemented it).
Fortunately, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ falls into this category. I’d already heard a few good things about it, and when the lovely Shikha suggested we go, I was keen. And of course it helps that the Bridge is one of my favourite theatres 🙂
Fortified by some delicious food from the in-house branch of St John, we took our seats in the second gallery. This is an immersive production and I suspect the atmosphere in the pit would have been amazing, but we both agreed we didn’t want to stand for nearly 3 hours (my friend C who witnessed me almost faint at the Globe a few years ago would verify that this is a bad idea for me). Anyway, the gallery seats gave us a fantastic birds-eye view of all the action.
And what action there was. A chorus was singing while we took our seats. As they left, platforms rose out of the floor for the first scene to play out. Later aerial hammocks would appear for the fairies to perform stunts and tricks on (some of which were truly mind-blowing, speaking as someone who’s tried aerial and left the class in a tearful sweaty embarrassed mess). And throughout, the cast really brought the humour and emotion out of the performance. A special mention must go to Hammed Animashaun as Bottom, who was amazing with both the funny and slightly sad aspects of the Rude Mechanicals’ performance. Gwendoline Christie, playing Titania/Hippolyta (and as far from Brienne of Tarth as you can imagine) was also exceptional.
This isn’t classic Shakespeare, anything but. But it’s thoroughly enjoyable, and what more can you ask of an evening’s entertainment than that?
Overall: high-flying, humorous, entertaining and thoroughly modern Shakespeare.