Exeter, Devon UK • May 23, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Review: ShakeSoc’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Review: ShakeSoc’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

5 mins read
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Things I like: Shakespeare, glitter (sorry, environment), and Soft Cell’s 1981 hit ‘Tainted Love’. Something I therefore liked by extension: ShakeSoc’s 48-hour production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For theatre novices who may have been previously unfamiliar with the concept of a 48-hour play (i.e. me), it’s very self-explanatory: it’s a production rehearsed, staged, and produced in two days. Therefore, things aren’t always going to go to plan, but when do things ever go to plan in a Shakespearean comedy?

You know the Midsummer Night’s drill: boy loves girl, girl loves boy, girl’s father wants her to marry boy #2, boy #2 is obsessed with girl, girl hates boy #2’s guts, girl-#2-who-was-actually-played-by-a-boy-in-this-production is infatuated with boy #2. Fairy queen falls in drug-induced love with a donkey who’s actually a man because, like, magic. You know. Pretty standard romcom fare.

In the true spirit of Shakespeare, there was innuendo and eyebrow waggling in abundance

There were a few slip-ups with lines forgotten and cues missed, but these were either covered up or laughed off by cast and audience alike. And there was a lot of laughter – a couple of times it was actually a struggle to hear what the cast was saying over the mirth of the crowd. In the true spirit of Shakespeare, there was innuendo and eyebrow waggling in abundance, and the comic timing of the cast was excellent, particularly from Hermia in her role as Lysander’s long-suffering girlfriend.

The 80s-inspired costumes were excellent, as was the amount of glitter, and the soundtrack did not disappoint. The show opened with a dramatic dance sequence to Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’, so it was already off to a good start, which was only upstaged by some (almost) synchronised shapes cut to a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ by Bottom et al. On a related note, I’m not interested in seeing another Shakespeare adaptation ever again if ‘Tainted Love’ isn’t played at some point (it’s a versatile song, okay).

Towards the end of the play, Peter Quince and his fellow players’ performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, the play within the play, was a particular highlight. Spoiler: Pyramus dies, and it’s quite funny. So does Thisbe. This is also quite funny.

This may have been my first time watching a 48-hour play, but as resident self-professed theatre novice I was incredibly impressed with what the cast and crew managed to achieve in such a short amount of time. Ultimately, the whole show was just a lot of fun. A lot of glittery, Shakespearean fun, which is really all you could ask from a Saturday night.

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