I didn’t think it was possible to re-imagine A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this well loved, well thumbed story in any way which would once again engage my brain and give me as much pleasure as they first time I saw it, which was probably when I was about five years old (we were very cultured in the West Country)
But somehow Filter, the theatre company behind this production managed to do just that. From the opening monologue by Peter Quince, who in this production is in the guise of a modern day am-dram, music-hall comedian and band-leader, which – although the words were not from Shakespeare’s hand, captured the audiences imagination and interest with its likeability and the promise of a Special Guest Star to play Bottom. Hints at who it might be further intrigued the audience and caught them up in what was to be a very interesting ride indeed.
With original music and a lot of original text (and a lot of Shakespearian text cut out) this may not be to purists taste, but something tells me Shakespeare himself would have loved this baudy, ballsy reinterpretation. At 2 hours with no interval it managed to keep this audience laughing and guessing even though this is one of the most over-produced of Shakespeare’s comedies. With clever gags and set design this production never tired and the ensemble of actors (including the special guest) were clearly having a wonderful time, when the actors are having that much fun, the audience can’t help but be swept along with them – I haven’t seen a food fight that good since I left school!
I will confess now, I did play Hypolita in our school production and my companion to this production was my school friend who had played Titania, so we were quite excited to see how our lines were delivered. We both agreed that Filter’s production at the Lyric Hammersmith nearly matched those heady days of the King Edward’s School Theatre, 1995.