Before I watched A Midsummer Night’s Dream at its opening night at the Northcott Theatre, it crossed my mind that it was a very apt play to be viewing, given the recent bust of summery heat (before we inevitably plunge back into wintry gloom, I am sure). However, once I left the theatre, I realised that it was the ‘dream’ element that was truly the most fitting part. Was I truly awake? Had I honestly just seen what I saw? Or was I simply another victim of the fairies and sprites, bewitched by a sprinkling of their fairy dust (or, in this play’s interpretation, toothpaste and Pimms)
Was I simply another victim of the fairies and sprites?
To clarify: I have never seen Shakespeare performed like this before, and, unless I go to another of Filter’s productions (likely), I shall never see it performed so again.
The production is billed as a performance that even Shakespeare-haters will love – and I haven’t heard a thing I agree more with all week. While certain passages of Shakespeare’s words appear verbatim here and there, the majority of the play is either ad-libbed or given a distinctly modern upheaval: the sentiment of the play is retained, the storyline unfolds as expected, but that is where the similarities to traditional productions of Dream end.
It would be entirely unfair to give away any of the mind-blowing and hilarious gags concocted by the minds of Filter’s production team. But, rest assured, I spent the entire one hundred and thirty-five minutes with my eyes completely glued to the stage – except, perhaps, when I came close to falling of my seat with laughter and amazement, or at that one moment when I was honestly prepared (and entreated, no less) to get up from my chair and walk away. This play pushes the boundaries of Shakespeare; in fact, it blows them open so wide that they will readily encompass every theatre-hating individual in the country.
mind-blowing and hilarious gags
The play is a mess. It is chaos. Anarchy. Walls will be broken (quite literally). Characters will suddenly, unexpectedly, hilariously, break out into rock ballads, narrative songs, cheesy background music. The boundary between stage and audience, usually as solid as aquarium glass, will vanish into mist. There will be food fights. Innuendo. Flying cables.
Need I say more?
This is Shakespeare, but not Shakespeare as it has ever been imagined before. Thanks to the collaborative genius of the masterminds behind Filter, and the team of a dozen talented actors with impeccable comedic timing, Shakespeare has morphed into something completely new and intriguing. The heart of the play, however, its meaning and sentiment, has been carefully preserved.
I urge you to go and see this production of Dream; I’m sure your revision can spare you for a couple of hours. Trust me, it’s not one to miss.