A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
by William Shakespeare.
Lyric Theatre Lyric Square Hammersmith W6 0QL To 17 March 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 2, 9, 16 March at 8pm Mat 22, 28 Feb, 1, 6, 8, 14 March 1.30pm 25 Feb, 17 March 2.30pm.
Audio-described 10 March.
Captioned 1 March 7.30pm.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 0871 22 117 26.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 February.
A theatrical mess where a good time is had by all.
YYoungish director Peter Hall (many years ago) replied to criticism that his Royal Shakespeare Company Wars of the Roses had mutilated Shakespeare’s History Plays by pointing out the plays remained for others to produce as they wished. And director Charles Marowitz made bold changes, filleting and reordering Shakespeare, re-allocating speeches between characters to cast light on the plays’ themes.
Filter’s Dream is radical, but never irrelevant. Its first trick brings a load of contemporary blarney from Irish actor Ed Gaughan. It settles the odd score – someone’s clearly saved resentment at a critic for here – but amid the chat and irrelevancies Gaughan reveals that he ‘is’ Peter Quince, and indeed possesses that amateur theatrical’s zest and incompetence.
A second trick is one Shakespeare might have witnessed himself in Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle. It brings onstage an extra cast member, with some shopping that, like the script, undergoes deconstruction. The newcomer’s brought on to play Bottom and as he leads the band into an unexpected song it’s clear he’s going to give Gaughan’s Quince the trouble Bottom gave Shakespeare’s.
For this filtrated Dream always looks to its source. Jonathan Broadbent’s Oberon mixes Superman garb with the glasses and bland expression of a Clark Kent. His amplified boasts go with an accident-prone bumbling, making a critique of a Shakespearean character who, despite supernatural powers, doesn’t easily get his way.
Puck (Filter’s Ferdy Roberts in a strong performance) becomes a cynical, seen-it-all roadie, the one who puts the boss’s big ideas into practice (it seems a logical extension that Company Stage Manager Claire Bryan is dragged into things).
Love-potions that are ejaculated all over walls and stain the bodies they touch, people tearing through the set, all help make this a screamingly funny nightmare. Amid all this are moments of seriousness. Victoria Moseley’s Hermia goes to court and into the woods half-dressed; aptly, as she awakes with alarm to find herself deserted and exposed. But, whether Sean Holmes’ production is being serious or comic, it makes an acute piece, where laugh-out-loud, apparently diversionary roads, all lead back to Shakespeare.
Theseus/Oberon: Jonathan Broadbent.
Peter Quince: Ed Gaughan.
Lysander: John Lightbody.
Demetrius: Simon Manyonda.
Hippolyta/Titania: Poppy Miller.
Hermia: Victoria Moseley.
Puck: Ferdy Roberts.
Helena: Rebecca Sroggs.
Ensemble: Chris Branch, Alan Pagan.
Bottom: A Star.
Director: Sean Holmes.
Designer: Hyemi Shin.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound/Composer: Tom Haines.
Assistant director: Ashley Scott-Layton