A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
by William Shakespeare.
Royal Lyceum Theatre Grindlay Street EH3 9AX To 17 November 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0131 248 4848.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 November.
Colourfully individual Dream.
“And it shall be called Bottom’s dream, because it hath no bottom,” says Bottom well into William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’s just been seen as a donkey, with a fairy queen and her supernatural retinue tending him, so it’s unsurprising this weaver of Athens feels life’s dreamlike. And the colleagues with whom he’d been rehearsing a play about ancient Greek lovers Pyramus and Thisbe have disappeared. Very strange.
Unlike the home life of the Bottom huddled in a cramped modern bedroom at the opening of Matthew Lenton’s Royal Lyceum production. He’s passing time watching TV, loyally attending his partner who lies in bed with an oxygen mask, holding her hand.
He won’t even be tempted when friend Peter Quince ‘phones to offer a place on the TV show he’s watching. Athens Hath Talent will have to do without him – sixpence a day for life notwithstanding (Lenton adapts freely but never loses sight of original values).
The bedroom disappears for a couple of hours or more. When it finally returns, Bottom’s simple love for his sick partner is, in all senses, touching.
Through the play’s betrayals, quarrels, transformations – magic as the expression of people at the mercy of emotions which they can’t control – this simply-expressed love, which no temptation of fortune or celebrity breaks, has a sempiternal depth enduring the winter where hot-tempered lovers flung about by the shock of sudden new desires combat bare-chested amid falling snow, into the final flowering of harmonious spring.
Its flowers hardly rival the bright colours garbing the quartet of lovers: light, bright and energised by passion. In contrast the older, powerful characters seem stolid and bland.
But not the Mechanicals; Lenton finds new laughter in ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, with Grant O’Rourke’s Flute finding his own passion in performance, taking over from Bottom’s customary smash-and-grab on the whole affair. And Cath Whitefield’s an unusually genial, well-intentioned Puck.
There are ordinary patches – the second, longer half brightens up a lot – but this is a fresh approach where the director’s additions are an intervention in revealing, rather than an imposition on, a timeless classic.
Theseus/Oberon: Ifan Meredith.
Hippolyta/Titania: Flavia Gusmao.
Puck: Cath Whitefield.
Helena: Roisin Gallagher.
Hermia: Anneika Rose.
Demetrius: Miles Yekinni.
Lysander: Kevin Mains.
Bottom: Jordan Young.
Peter Quince: Barnaby Power.
Snug: Fraser Sivewright.
Flute: Grant O’Rourke.
Snout: Neil Thomas.
Egeus/Starveling: Paul Cunningham.
Speaking Fairy: Isla Cowan/Katie Logie.
Fairies: Louie Plummer, Aileen Brouwers, Maya Pidoux/Keir Aitken, Mirren McKay, Blair Cunningham.
Director: Matthew Lenton.
Designer/Lighting: Kai Fischer.
Sound/Composer: Mark Melville.
Costume: Becky Minto.