The Donkey Show

  • Date:
    Wednesday, April 18, 2001
    Review by:
    Darren Dalglish

    This show, created by Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner, was first seen in the UK at the Edinburgh Festival last August where it played to capacity audiences and has been running at El Flamingo, New York for two years. The show opened here in London at the Hanover Grand nightclub, just of Regent’s Street, last September and has recently changed cast.

    One has to say this 70s disco spin on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is not a dramatic one! Dialogue is almost non-existent, instead it is replaced by 70s disco songs which attempt to carry the familiar plot.

    Let me run down the timetable of events. You are not allowed into the building until the show is due to start, rather you are expected to queue outside. However, there are some street ‘acts’ which try to keep you entertained while waiting. When you enter the night club you are led to the cloakrooms to get rid of your bags and coats and then to the bar area which faces onto the disco floor. Disco music is playing and the characters encourage you to dance so as to get into the spirit of the occasion. Taped music is played for around 15 minutes before the ‘play’ actually begins. Then for the next hour several young actors will perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, in a very unusual way.

    This is not for theatre purists, but it is nevertheless a lot of fun. What surprised me was the average age of the patrons who were around the early 20s. At 40 years of age I think I was the oldest there, which was very disconcerting!! I thought this show would have appealed to an older generation, one that actually lived through the 70s. Anyway, all seemed to be enjoying themselves with the party atmosphere, including me and my partner.

    The young cast of 15 perform with lots of sexy energy, wit and some great disguises!! Songs to be enjoyed include “You Sexy Thing”, “Enough is Enough”, “Car Wash”, “Never Knew Love Like This Before”, “How Deep Is Your Love?” and many more. It was certainly a nostalgic trip for me, and as for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, this gets lost in the show as it is merely a theme in which to sing and dance to great music.

    The show received good reviews when it opened last year…..THE EVENING STANDARD says, “This is an exuberant fusion of clubland and theatre.” TIME OUT says, “The Bard's dialogue is traded in for cheesy pop.” THE TIMES says, “"The dancing continues long after the last scene." THE INDEPENDENT says the show is "witty, smutty and endlessly inventive.."

    If you want to chill out and have a lot of fun by dancing to seventies disco music, then this is just the show to see. If you want to see ‘theatre’ stay away.


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