Play Review – Globe on Screen: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Date: 28th July 2014, 7pm
Venue: Empire Cinema

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was part of The Globe’s 2013 season, after hearing so many fantastic reviews I was desperate to go and see it. Unfortunately I never could, so I was ecstatic to hear that this year Globe on Screen would be showing some of last years season in selected cinemas.

I have studied and read the play however I’ve never actually seen it performed other than as a film or TV special. As most of you know, this is one of the most popular Shakespeare plays to be performed and studied. It’s a wonderful lighthearted comedy that could get almost anyone to crack a smile. With confused lovers, meddlesome fairies and hilariously bad actors you could argue this play has it all when it comes to a comedy aspect.

There’s so much I loved about this performance I don’t know where to start. The acting was marvellous, the lovers (Sarah Macarae as Helena; Olivia Ross as Hermia; Joshua Silver as Demetrius and Luke Thompson as Lysander) conveyed each character brilliantly and their emotions. Especially the overreactions of Helena and Lysander. Pearce Quigley’s portrayal of Bottom was stellar and earned the most laughs from the audience in the cinema. The camp personality and gestures he made were perfect for this character. I can’t imagine Bottom being portrayed in another way after seeing this! However, I absolutely adored the fairies. Titania (Michelle Terry) was phenomenal, showing Titania off as the strong woman that she is. Her interactions with Bottom, and her facial expressions, were hysterical and pulled off really well. John Light’s Oberon was very physical and masculine, swinging from ropes and casually picking up other actors, which you don’t always see in a fairy King but was exactly how I pictured him when studying the play. In addition I loved his relationship with Puck (played by Matthew Tennyson). Puck was the mischievous boy that you expect him to be, with elements of unpredictability in his delivery and movement.

It wasn’t just the actors that caught my attention but their costumes as well. Again, the fairies in particular. I feel that both designer (Jonathan Fensom) and director (Dominic Dromgoole) did a wonderful job of connecting the fairies to nature, rather than taking a more magical or supernatural route. It fit perfectly in with the forest, which is necessary as that’s where the majority of the play takes place. With the fur and feathers it is a great contrast to what the mortal lovers wear, making a very clear distinction between them all. It was enjoyable and added to the comedy that every time we saw the lovers, their state of undress increased leaving them dirty and dishevelled by the end of the play. Which leaves you to wonder what they have done to get in such a state.

However it wasn’t just the forest scenes that I loved. The end with the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe was fantastic and had everyone roaring with laughter. With the set breaking, the missing sword, the dead dog, Bottom forgetting his lines and maintaining the same position, and the hole in the wall being in the most awkward place – it was chaos and pulled off brilliantly. A great last laugh of the play, before Puck delivers his soliloquy and there’s a surreal moment of slow dance and music to convince the audience that it has all been a dream.

Overall I am thrilled that this was the first theatre performance I could see of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – however I feel that others may not be able to compare with this one in the furture. Dromgoole did a wonderful job of directing this and now I can see why it was loved so much. I hope Globe on Screen continue to give people this fantastic opportunity to see plays they may have missed out on the first time.

Rating: 5/5

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