Placing the world of dreams centre stage, this new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe invites us to experience the theatre as we might imagine it to have been in Shakespeare’s day – raucous, rousing, participative, colourful, musical and a damn good evening out.
Of course, the story is deliciously ludicrous. If you’re like me, you might occasionally feel like Shakespeare can be hard work, as it requires us to pay particularly earnest attention to words and meanings that are not part of our modern day lexicon. Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible comedies, this production takes accessibility and audience delight to a new level.
Jean Chan’s costumes make the outfits on Strictly look quiet, it often feels as though we are at some sort of festival, with extraordinarily colourful sartorial creations. The fairies and the donkey are a psychedelic rainbow patchwork of colour that is both imaginatively astonishing and truly compelling. Both the set and costume designs stand out in this show.
The hearty atmosphere of production is primarily owed to the thrilling band. The music can be heard as soon as we walk into the expansive Globe Theatre and continues on joyfully throughout. Jim Fortune has composed fun ditties, as well as adding in some classic songs for brilliant comical effect. The music is then only complimented by the cast’s delightful singing, each of their voices powerfully elegant.
Direction by Sean Holmes is astounding, with fresh ideas that are exciting to watch. He truly creates an interactive experience with the audience (especially if you have a standing ticket) that allows for jeering, shouting and audience participation. We truly feel involved with the show, and are fully invested in Shakespeare’s farcical story. This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is refreshingly culturally diverse. A completely gender and ethnicity-blind casting has ended Holmes with a brilliantly diverse cast that are excellently witty, and under Holmes’ contemporary direction, bring a modern feel to the 400-year-old text.
The energetic actors make this show what it is. Their non stop commitment and comedy is utterly mesmerising. The four in the infamous love triangle, Demetrius (Ciaran O’Brien), Hermia (Faith Omole), Lysander (Ekow Quartey) and Helena (Amanda Wilkin) are a dynamic foursome on stage. Each of them projects strongly and fills the auditorium with their character. Each member of the cast is commendable, but I particularly enjoy Bottom, played by Jocelyn Jee Esien. Her comedic timing is faultless and she creates a fabulous, electric energy that is captivating to watch. At times some of the actors get carried away with their immense passion and the speed of the dialogue is difficult to hear, which isn’t helpful as Shakespeare is already difficult to cipher, but they make up for this with their larger than life body language that entirely tells the story by itself.
Overall A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an enchanting show, from the magical costume and set design, to its exquisite cast. It strikes the perfect balance, never slipping into the cringiness of a pantomime, and yet keeping things so light and laugh out loud funny that we can’t help but pause in wonder at the poetry that is delivered with such ease.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at Shakespeare’s Globe until 13 October. For more information and tickets, visit the Shakespeare’s Globe website.