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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Play Review) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Play Review)
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Play Review)

If you like your Shakespeare with a bit of Dizzy Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’, a dollop Jimmy Cliff’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, a slice of Beyoncé’s ‘Love on Top’ mixed with a gyrating mule and black males lead roles then this highly entertaining interpretation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Bridge Theatre is for you.

 

Like most of Shakespeare’s plays the plot is complicated and convoluted and as the cast speak in ‘Old English’ it would be useful to be familiar with the story line beforehand.

 

Suffice to say it centres around two sets lovers who flee to a forest and due to a case of mistaken identity by an elf with a magic potion end up falling in love with the wrong partners with comical consequences.

 

Add into the story a couple of quarrelling monarchs, jealous fairy kings and queens, unrequited love, bungling Athenian actors, sprinklings of acrobatic fairies, bubble baths, floating beds and you get over two hours of entertainment magic.

 

Kit Young and Paul Adeyefa, give energetic and often humorous performances as the love-struck and bickering suitors Lysander and Demetrius. The interplay between the two especially in the forest scenes are a joy to watch.

 

Isis Hainsworth is first rate as the challenging and feisty Hermia, ready to defy her father and the King for her true love Lysander. Whilst Tessa Bonham Jones turns in an admirable and often witty performance as Helena, Hermia’s bestie, who herself if pinning for the hand of Demetrius, despite him being in love with Hermia.

 

However it’s the magical and comedic interplay between Hammed Animashaun as Bottom and Oliver Chris as Oberon the fairy king that provide most of the comical highlights of the play.

 

The chemistry and comedic timing between these two actors incredible, as witnessed in the raunchy ‘twerking’ bedroom or the ludicrous bath scenes. Both of which left the audience in hails of laughter.

 

David Moorst as the dim, mischievous and charming Puck, the instigator of much of the play’s confusion, was also a delight to watch. With his audacious humour spoken with a warm Northern twang, he kept the audience enthralled throughout.

 

The rest of the main cast, made up of Gwendoline Christie (Titania/Hippolyta), Kevin McMongale (Egeus) and Felicity Montagu (Quince) gave commendable performances.  Whilst the acrobatic elves and confused Athenian players added the extra glow that made this a truly memorable evening.

 

Special mention must go to set designer Bunny Christie, who with moving scenery that utilised the whole of the performance area, beds that floated magically in the air made this a truly special and immersive experience for the audience.

 

An eclectic choice of contemporary music from funk, through rnb to classical was creatively blending by composer Grant Olding to ensure that the diverse crowd were kept entertained and engaged throughout.

 

Director Nicholas Hytner, intelligently balances the original prose with touches of modernity not only to keep the audience intrigued but also to make sure that pace of this very long play was fast moving leaving little room for boredom.

 

All the plaudits that have been heaped on this production are well deserved. This version is daring, unpredictable, compelling and hugely entertaining. Praise all round to the actors and creatives that worked together to put on one the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in a long while.

 

11 June-31 August A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bridge Theatre, Potters Fields Park, SE1 2SG 7.30pm Tickets £15-£70 (conc) Box Office: 0333 320 0051 or boxoffice@bridgetheatre.co.uk
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will be broadcast to over 700 UK cinemas and many more worldwide on 17th October 2019. For more info visit www.ntlive.com

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