With the question of whether Shakespeare should be staged out of its original time period being one of contention, it is refreshing to see Matthew Dunster’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream merge beautifully with the humour and baseness of channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, resonating with stories of the traveling community trafficking and enslaving vulnerable men. All this mixed up with the wonderful, magical and mysterious world of fairies and the things that go bump in the night.
The production is a pure joy to watch: A clever and thought-provoking piece that didn’t seem out of place set in 2012 within the council of Athens: Oberon Construction site, council estate and the faery flowery park. Jon Bausor’s set design is inspired with caravans, white vans, crane and park setting complete with pond. The set is complemented perfectly by Laura Hopkins’ costume design of tracksuits, skinny jeans and big fat gyspy bridal wear.
As you enter the space, the production is in full swing, the mechanicals are “working” hard avoiding their work and the Council State Royality are enjoying the wrestling between Lysander and Demitrius, no doubt capturing the spar for youtube on their mobile phones. The Tyranical King is asserting his authority over land whilst his plucky bride-to-be Hippolyta does her best to hold her ground – a gritty theme that profoundly frames the production and one that is mirrored beautifully by the perfectly cast Titania and her fairy King Oberon.
The whole cast were first class; mesmerising and word perfect. However, four performers really were outstanding; Rebeccca Oldfield’s Helena, Oliver Johnstone’s Puck, Harry Hepple’s Quince and Mireia Mambo-Bokele’s Fairy. Their charactiseration worked well with the original text, language and loquacity in perfect harmony.
I give this production 5 *, a must-see for anyone who loves Shakespeare of reality telly! I cannot fault any part and may have to just go again to see the “Athen’s got talent” style wedding celebrations!
Reviewed by Faye who you can follow on Twitter @Faye3011
Monday 11th June, 2012