“The course of true love never did run smooth” goes the line and never has a stronger argument been made than tonight’s raucous take on one of the Bard’s most popular comedies. And never before have we been able to settle that age old debate – do camels live in the woods?
In the sunny surroundings of the Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden, and armed with a series of violently coloured wigs, water-pistols and wings that are most definitely not bedsheets, the Rubbish Shakespeare Theatre Company has brought its latest family-friendly production to the stage, channeling the sensibilities of pantomime, as our players mercilessly tease the audience throughout, whilst sprinting through the salient points of the well-loved tale.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention during your English Lit lessons, a Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in a fantastical version of ancient Athens, cramming in more sub-plots than an average episode of Eastenders (albeit with a much higher ratio of woodland fairies), as we see love rivalries, petty acts of revenge and jealousy, mistaken identity and the woes of a squabbling troupe of actors trying to prepare for their grand performance in front of the King of Athens.
Our gang, Rob Rhys Bond, Ryan Byrne, Alex Macdonald and Lee Hithersay (who adapted the text, and co-directs the show with Macdonald and Ellie Hurt) are a hoot to watch together as they multi-role their way through the show. Hithersay’s Demetrius, sounding like he’s fallen straight out of ‘Made in Chelsea’, and Macdonald’s chaotic take on Puck are particular highlights.
They all strike that lovely balance of kid-friendly jokes peppered with occasionally saucier moments for the parents to explain when they get home.
Their well-honed schtick means they can both handle a precocious nine-year-old heckler with charming aplomb whilst embarrassing one of her chaperones into shouting ‘Shiny!’ every time a certain cue is given. And they succeed in keeping the audience on side despite having no qualms at turning their super-soakers in their direction.
And in the blazing sunlight, there really is something delightful about an audience of all ages howling with laughter at the language of Shakespeare, even when it is aided and abetted by a donkey mask and a lightsaber. Overall a highly accessible introduction to the Bard, and a brilliant hour of theatrical entertainment.
For more information and What’s On, visit https://shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk/
Review: Louise Steggals
Reviewed: 9th June 2023
North West End UK Rating: