Headlong Theatre’s adaptation of this classic masterpiece gets in touch with younger generations with its use of multimedia and setting. It is one of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, taking two couples and challenging their love for each other by inducing false impressions of love through fairies, who also seem to be having problems when it comes to affection. With donkeys and disaster, this production is an excellent chance to appreciate Britain’s literary heritage.
The play is set in a 1960s film studio, in which a Hollywood movie is being filmed. The love lives of characters on and off the stage use Shakespeare’s original texts to combine a classic romantic comedy with society we can all relate to. The audience will often see familiar props – such as 3D glasses and tricycles – to keep the feel of a modern play, which really helps to empathise with the characters. The twisted stories of Helena, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander – as well as Hippolyta and Theseus – are followed as the characters journey deeper into mystery and magic, as well as going deeper into themselves. The ideas of love and romance expressed in the play really draw the audience’s attention to what is real and what is superficial, as well as being a suitable comedy for young people to enjoy.
I would recommend watching this play to any GCSE or A Level drama students, or indeed anyone at all who has an interest in theatre and the arts. Props, costume and multimedia are all pulled together to create this stunning adaptation.
On a personal level, I thought the performance in general was very good – the acting quality was clearly very high. It’s clear that the actors all had a voice in the directing of the play, which resulted in a very polished performance. However, I feel the language barrier was still present and to a modern day audience could be hard to penetrate, yet the general visuals of the play (costumes, props, scenery etc.) helped to ensure the audience’s understanding.
In conclusion, the play was professional and an inspiration to any budding artist – musical, visual or theatrical as it appeases all audiences. It has just finished its run at Salisbury Playhouse and continues on to Glasgow and Cambridge.
This review was written by Kirby Dunwell and brought to you by The Unit’s Young Reviewers Club, supporting young people to get access to a range of gigs and cultural events and activities in and around Salisbury. For more information on The Unit, see its website here.