Holidays are horrible things. They prevent you from going to see Shakespeare at the Royal Exchange Theatre. I had to send a replacement to check it out…
“Somehow, I get the feeling that when Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream he didn’t plan on a man dressed as a superhero, a food fight or the need to quickly recruit a member of the audience to play Bottom. But 400 years later, that’s precisely what happened. A fabulous team, directed by Sean Holmes, showed just how insane this play can become.
The Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream opened with Ed Gaughan’s Quince walking into the Royal Exchange Theatre, chatting with the audience. He thanked us for coming, rather than staying at home to watch the Olympic Men’s Gymnastics.
Jonathan Broadbent was an excellent Theseus and a hilarious Oberon, sporting a bright blue leotard and silver cape. The equally talented Poppy Miller gave a high standard performance as Hippolyta and Titania, complete with astounding vocals for the scene where Titania and Bottom first meet.
Similarly the four lovers; John Lightbody, Gemma Saunders, Rhys Rusbatch and Rebecca Scroggs, were fantastic. Designer Hyemi Shin and director Sean Holmes have gone to town with both costumes and demeanor, using a lot more humour than usual. And we mustn’t forget The Mechanicals, who suddenly were one short when Sir Ian McKellen got stuck in the lift. (Yeah, right!) But no matter, a helpful member of the audience stepped forward, Sainsbury’s shopping and all, to fill the space (after signing a waiver in case he tripped and broke his leg or something).
Chris Branch, Alan Pagan and not least Ed Gaughan were great, and Chris’s impersonation of Sharon Stone is a joy. Puck has always been one of my favourite characters and Ferdy Roberts, with his brash and humorous Puck, did not let me down.
I applaud the whole team; they took a timeless story and added some glitter, some 1950s music and a couple of Capri-suns, bringing back a play that was originally written as a comedy, making it funnier still. I spent most of the 1 hour 45 minutes laughing. It’s unmissable.”
(Review by Helen Giles)