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A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare's Globe 2013

There was a time when summer didn't seem quite seasonally correct without a version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to experience. Set mostly outdoors, this bit of Shakespearian nonsense almost encapsulates the season and the kind of associated madness the title implies. But now that it is perpetual October with miserable temperatures more akin to those of the little ice age, and leaden skies which threaten frequent drenchings, the play doesn't feel quite so summery. And this version from the Globe's artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, picks-up on the current, dismal state of the climate.

Now comedy is hardly a stranger at this venue and this play has plenty of ingredients which provide the laughs. The 'rude mechanicals are the focus for much of the humour and these are a clog-wearing bunch who break into dance at every opportunity. In fact, they indulge in a magnificent clog-dance even before they mutter a single word. Bottom (excellently played by Pearce Quigley) has trouble remembering Peter Quince's name which provides a running gag. In their play about Pyramus and Thisbe, the wall is so huge it can barely fit on the tiny portable stage which Snug the joiner has to repair while the performance is in progress. It's all suitably chaotic and proves very funny.

Overall, there is plenty to enjoy here and relatively little to fault. If I have to be picky, I think Mr Dromgoole could have managed a bit of judicial pruning to reduce the near three-hour running time, especially given the inclusion of numerous dances which add to the duration. And the mechanical's play does rely quite heavily on slapstick, leaving less room for the subtlety which I have seen employed to great effect in some other productions. Nevertheless and in spite of the elements, the audience seemed well-entertained and amused, and in the end that's what counts.

 

 

"Compelling and very funny production."
Michael Coveney for The Independent

"The play's royal and supernatural qualities are both well brought out, but it is the comedy of the mechanicals who announce their arrivals with witty clog dances that are this show's biggest joy."
Mark Shenton for The Stage

"A warm, comic vision ideally pitched to this performance space. His [Dominic Dromgoole] production bursts with crowd-pleasing gestures."
Fiona Mountford for The Evening Standard

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