Revelry, mirth and sport are at the very forefront of this 2013 incarnation of Shakespeare’s capering, captivating and often irreverent comedy. Chris Abraham does the unthinkable with this enchanting theatrical spectacle that beguiles the senses and bewitches one’s vision.
The heritage of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is steeped in fantasy, transformation and the unpredictable. The director responds to the imaginative scope of the original text with unique innovation and energy but still preserves the potency of Shakespeare’s rich linguistic alchemy. Such an achievement is made possible by remoulding familiar characters and casting them afresh within camping context.
Whilst the entire cast is strong, a large part of the play belongs to Chick Reid who dynamically inhabits the role of Puck. From first to last she delivers her lines with sensitivity and poise.
Despite being an indoor staging, the airy atmosphere underscores the element of spontaneity that is so intrinsic to the original play.
This well-known tale of supernatural deviance and passionate lovers who rebel against the pressures of established convention, is not without contemporary relevance. Indeed, the play offers important social and ethical lessons.
Chris Abraham’s production certainly revolutionises Shakespeare but it also taps into the fact that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has always been a feisty and subversive text. The visual splendour, sharp delivery and local flair of the Stratford Festival production are a perceptual delight to ensure that the play continues to represent, “fantasies, that apprehend/ More than cool reason ever comprehends.”
Review by Monika Parker