I have always loved Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. I first saw it when I was around 7 or 8 at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and since then I’ve seen it probably about 8 times, mainly at the Open Air Theatre. The setting of the Open Air Theatre has such a magical feel to it that it forces even more magic to come out of the wonderful play that is already full of fairies and mischief and can’t help but delight even the most mature of adults.
Having seen the production so many times at the Open Air Theatre, I never thought any other venue could match the brilliance and spark that such a beautiful venue delivers. Gladly, I was wrong.
Every year, the Globe Theatre puts on a midnight matinee production of a show and this year it was their touring production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. I managed to get a standing ticket for this production and having arrived before 11 and starting the queue for the groundling gates, managed to get the best spot in the whole theatre: right at the front of the stage in the very centre. The theatre soon filled up with all sorts of people, including some school groups from Europe, attending the performance. By 23.55 the atmosphere was electric with excitement and expectation. I’d heard some very good reviews about this production and by the feel of the rest of the audience, they had too.
Being a touring production, there were only 8 actors in the cast. I was unsure as to how they would manage this but it worked perfectly. The lovers and Puck doubled up as the Mechanicals whilst following the tradition of the production, Oberon and Titania doubled as Theseus and Hippolyta. The costume changes occurred on stage with garments being placed on top of the base costume in a very cleverly choreographed sequence put to a banjo, played by Oberon. There was humour and sadness and tomfoolery and cheekiness emanating from the stage. Audience participation was vital to this production and the actors got every ounce of it they needed. I’ve never heard so much laughter and joy from audience. Upon the saying of the line “What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?” one member of the audience screamed “No don’t do that!” which caused a riotous uproar the likes of which is rarely heard. The only actor able to maintain character after the interaction was Hermia, impressive seeing as the audience member was trying to save her life.
The whole cast were outstanding in their chemistry and knowledge of each other but it has to be said that Puck made the show the most fantastic performance I’ve ever seen. Dressed in a Cabaret outfit she, yes a female Puck, brought the best humour and liveliness and naughtiness I’ve ever seen in a Puck. The desire to please Oberon whilst still being that “wondering spirit of the night” was portrayed to perfection. Male members of the audience had their hair tousled and one man was even brought on stage and performed on, with Puck using him as a chair and dance accessory.
There are still opportunities to see the production as it is touring all around the UK so definitely go and see it if you have a chance. For more information visit http://www.shakespeares-globe.org/theatre/ontour/amidsummernightsdream/