We have heard the chimes at Midnight.A Midsummer Night’s Dream.2 July 2010. Midnight. Globe Theatre, London

Wandering through the hazy heat of a Friday London night in July, I was struck by the bright lights, smiles and merriment of the revelers along the riverbank by Southwark. Looking at the historic buildings and hundreds of people enjoying the late summer, my delightful friends and I wandered indulgently to The Globe for a midnight performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The place was packed and there was a special atmosphere as the clock struck twelve. There was cheering and wails of delight as Will Mannering walked onto stage to tell us to put the phones away.

Out from the rear of the stage emerged several jolly looking chaps and ladies dressed in plus fours, slacks and flat caps, flapping and Charleston-ing their way under umbrellas. Puck, dressed a la Minnelli in Cabaret, shimmied her way around, later ruffling the hair and tweaking the noses of happy looking men in the groundlings.

Dream is a play which lends itself to ebullient outpourings-silly and serious, joyous with a dark undercurrent should the Director choose. Well in this case the underbelly in the fairy world was neatly whittled away and what was left was a delicious sense of the farcical, the mad, irrational and absurdity of youthful love.

Those of us in the audience were only too happy to embrace this sparkling world of joie de vivre and tomfoolery. We cheered, hallooed and booed at all the appropriate moments – a sort of cultural Pantomime.

Will Mannering was particularly fine as enthusiastic, aspiring thespian Nick Bottom. He harrumphed and ee-awed his way around the stage, scratching his hairy ears and being an almost perfect ass.

As always the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe was a master class in am-dram gone to the dogs (It would be hard to go wrong with this section!)With the unfortunate Flute straining his voice to soprano to great comic effect.

At the end of the evening there was more wild dancing on stage and the audience was energized with applause, approbation and cheers. My friends and I finished our bottle of sparkling refreshment, and in the small hours wandered weary but happy through the grey dawn rising over London. There may not have been any actual chimes at midnight, but still, we heard them.


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