The Fifth and Sixth Form students were lucky to be able to see this reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Lyric Hammersmith & Filter Theatre production company at the Oxford Playhouse, in advance of our senior production this autumn.
The production premiered at The Lyric in 2012 and has been touring to critical acclaim ever since. We were surely not the only ones who didn’t know what they were in for as we settled in for some Shakespeare. All notions of tradition were thrown out of the door, as the director Sean Holmes led us to the heart of Shakespeare’s playful nature.
The actor playing Peter Quince begins with an ambling prologue, heavily implying that Rowan Atkinson would be playing the infamous Nick Bottom. After a technical hitch and a decided moment where we thought we might be going home without a show, a member of the audience stepped up with his Sainsbury’s shopping bags to play the part of Bottom! From that moment forth, most things were turned on their head.
In this production, Oberon is a tights-wearing superhero in a sparkly silver cape, whiny and child-like as he begs Titania for her fledgling child. His obedient Puck is a strong woman in overalls, kicking through walls and playing tricks on him. One of the highlights was during the height of the lovers' spat, as Oberon and Puck settle down to watch them, with crisp sandwiches and juice boxes. The scene quickly evolved into a full auditorium food-fight, which the girls willingly partook in…!
The fairies are far from ethereal, and concocted from whooshes and whizzes and highly altered voices spoken into the microphones. As Puck weaves the lovers ‘up and down’, they enter into a game of Mortal Combat using sound effects and Nerf guns.
The onstage musicians double as a loveable band of Mechanicals, providing live sound effects and mixing throughout. There are moments of Bottom rocking out, and Demetrius spouting Barry White to woo Helena, as Shakespearean language is turned into song. And Bottom's transformation into mule is demonstrated by ‘clip clops’ from a coconut shell.
This riotous reinterpretation of the classic play had us hooked on every moment, and laughing at the constant twists and turns we were thrown - surely a night for all to remember.
The Drama Department is looking forward to creating our own interpretation of this farcical play and the fun we can have drawing moments from this energetic text.
Miss Bethany Dickinson, Graduate Assistant, Drama & Dance