Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) RSC and Edinbugh to 26 August

RST (Stratford Upon Avon) till 18 08 12
Edinburgh Internation Festival 24 -26 08 12
Runs: 1h 40m, no interval

Review: 14 08 12, Alexander Ray

Unique and truly splendid

There is a style of clowning or physical theatre (call it what you will) that manages to reveal our souls – or perhaps reveal the souls of the performers, and by reflection, ours. Such is the power of this event; with a vast imagined canvas in response to the Pyramus and Thisbe tale from MND the company have touches the heart of this tale in a way that no production of MND I have seen ever has been able to do.

Underpinning this unique event is the level of clowning, economically though thoroughly set up in a couple of opening sequences with giant props. But then the folk put on their formal outfits – their servants’ uniforms. The ‘court’ enters, slowly, slowly, so very slowly. Nothing is hurried; we can examine all details. Already we are disorientated.

The workers then begin, haltingly, tenderly, honestly to enact their story; their delivery is uncertain, mumbled . . . these are not actors, they are servants doing their best.

And then enters Pyramus; a gigantic puppet manipulated by a host of puppeteers. It’s a ramshackle affair, cobbled together naively by the workers. Yet it’s beautifully constructed by these skilful artisans; while Pyramus’s face may be a cardboard cut-out, his giant metal hands have fingers that straighten and fold. (And other bits are in full working order as the Pyramus-Thisbe love scene hilariously reveals!)

Thisbe is portrayed by just such a wonderful creation.

Krymov gives us a production that works on many levels. The difficulty of manipulating these giant creations releases the ‘workers’ of the need to be funny. Their effort in mounting their show is real and heart-breakingly touching. A Schubert songs (sung live) supported love scene is juxtaposed with a dog performing tricks and hilarious, sometimes dark, interruptions from the court audience. We, in turn, must open ourselves up to the show, minute by minute.

Even as a mini corps de ballet dances a sequence of iconic Russian dance while the stage is swept around them, and an audience member congratulates the company on its interpretation of Shakespeare. But then I can’t forget, either, the long list of Great Lovers we are given to contextualise Pyramus and Thisbe; it incorporates Tchaikovsky and his coachman. Do they know something about Russian musical history I don’t?

Unique and truly splendid.

Dmitry Krymov – Director
Vera Martynova – Set and Costumes Design
Kuzma Bodrov – Composer
Ivan Vinogradov – Technical Director/Lighting Designer
Victor Platonov – Puppets
Irina Trostnikova – Project coordinator
Kirill Nosyrev – Assistant Technical Director
Olga Ravvich – Lighting Engineer
Andrey Zachesov – Sound Design
Irina Bakulina – Wardrobe
Maria Masalskaya – Props
Alexander Shaposhnikov – Video Engineer/Subtitles
Margarita Bondarenko – Company Manager
Valery Shadrin – Producer

Liya Akhedzhakova
Valery Garkalin
Natalia Gorchakova
Maria Gulik
Vadim Dubrovin
Alexey Kokhanov 
Andrey Loshkin
Maxim Maminov
Sergey Melkonyan
Boris Opletaev
Anna Sinyakina
Mikhail Umanets
Anatoliy Shustov
Vladimir Shustov
Pavel Balbukh 
Ivan Barakin
Ivan Eryshev
Valery Guriyanov
Sergey Nazarov
Anton Telkov

2012-08-15 11:47:00

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