All is Dream A Midsummer Night’s Dream. June 2008. Globe Theatre, London.

For anyone who has never been to the Globe reconstruction, it is a many splendid thing. When you go in for the first time, the usual reaction is ‘wow’. There are colours and an abundance of Renaissance style decoration covering the stage. It is quite imposing.

Traditionally this has been something of a disadvantage for the place, often being described as ‘tourist theatre’. I think it maybe a peculiarly English insult to call someone a tourist, but maybe I am wrong. Anyway, the Globe as tourist theatre meant traditionally it has received pretty dodgy reviews.

Things seem to have been on the up recently though with some critics duly swallowing humble pie and getting their act together. As it is I have always loved the Globe, not for the hey nonny nonny quality it has necessarily, but for the intimacy and engagement you get with the action as it unfolds. It is difficult not to feel involved when Macbeth, or Othello, or Titus, or Margaret, or any other character you care to mention, are talking to YOU, directly.

So with a merry heart I got in the queue for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, quite willing to spend three hours standing up in the sunshine. Pleasingly I was not disappointed.

Traditionally I prefer tragedies and histories in regard to Shakespeare but am slowly coming round to the comedies as well. This was a very funny production as well as being visually quite stunning. The stage was smothered in blues and blacks, which became more vivid hues of ultramarine as the action moved into the chaotic world of the woods. Crimson and Fuchsia coloured flowers appeared and costumes gradually melted away from severe, restrictive blacks into flowing peaches, lilacs, golds and chartreuses.

Stand out performance for me was by Laura Rogers who played Helena. She managed to convey the sense of Helena’s entrapment and distress by her rejected love, and had excellent comic timing.

The doubling of Titania/Oberon and Theseus/Hippolyta was also an interesting choice, highlighted further by the use of regional accents in the spaces beyond the court.

For me, as always, the final performance of Pyramus and Thisbe was a highlight. Paul Hunter’s superbly overdone death scene lasted for about 5 minutes as he managed to rally, then succumb repeatedly. It was as over the top as it should have been and very very funny.

It took me a while to enjoy the performance of Michael Jibson as Puck, but I put this down to my last experience of Puck being performed by the mighty Jon Slinger. Once I got past this though, I still had a couple of reservations. It was an entraining performance, reminiscent of the old style Northern music hall performers, and whilst funny I was not always sure what to make of him. Mischievous sprite of slightly vicious? To be honest I am still not sure, but as this was early on in the run I suspect the role may have developed more now.

Still this was an entertaining production with some assured and confident performances, particularly from Tom Mannion (Oberon) and Siobhan Redmond (Titania) and would gladly stand and watch it again.


Popular Posts