A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre, London

If you enjoy Shakespeare, then the Globe Theatre is a delightful venue to watch his plays. There is a large area immediately in front of the stage where members of the audience can stand under the open sky and enjoy the English weather. Fortunately, there are also plenty of seats undercover. There is something special about this theatre. Its existence is the result of the vision of Sam Wanamaker, the blacklisted American actor, and it stands as a worthy tribute to him.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s more complicated comedies. There are four stories at work, each of which intertwines with the others. First, we have Duke Theseus of Athens who is planning on marrying his defeated enemy, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Next, we have Demetrius who is in love with Hermia, but she is in love with Lysander, but her father prefers Demetrius, who is loved by Helena but he spurns her. Then there is Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the fairies respectively, who have fallen out and are arguing. Finally, further confusion and many of the laughs are provided by a small troop of townsmen who are would be actors hoping to celebrate the Duke’s wedding by putting on a play for him. Most of the action takes place in a forest near Athens that is inhabited by the fairyfolk.

I have seen other productions of this play but not at the Globe. The company there seems to be mostly young actors, which is no bad thing. They are full of energy, passion, and physical activity, all of which are suited to this play. Often, they take on more than one role, which is not unknown of course, except in this version almost every actor got to play the part of Puck, Oberon’s chief mischief maker. I have never seen this schizophrenic approach taken before and it ran the risk of confusing the audience, not least because Oberon does not mark either the change in the actor or that several of them are on the stage at the same time playing the same character. Despite this reservation, it worked. I would even say that it found new sources of laughter with its very original interpretation.

Visually, the production was vibrant with lots of dayglo colours, reminiscent of a mardi gras. There was good use of music, some dancing, and a bit of ad-libbing, especially when the volunteer from the audience was included in the scene. The cast completed the production without an intermission, which was a feat in itself, but it also meant that members of the audience that lacked such a robust constitution inevitably and understandably disturbed others as the play went on.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe was a success. The time flew by because it was fun. The cast were talented and the production imaginative. Without doubt the setting, the theatre itself, adds to the occasion like no other venue can. If you ever visit London and have a liking for Shakespeare, I would recommend that you buy tickets for whatever production they are putting on there, it is an experience in itself.

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