A Rubbish Midsummer Night's Dream
- Deborah Chu
- 27 August 2021
High-energy Fringe adaptation of Shakespeare's magical comedy is the most fun you'll find in a fitted bedsheet
Distilled forms of the Bard may be dime a dozen these days, but Rubbish Shakespeare Company's four-handed gallop through A Midsummer Night's Dream is a rare and genuine delight. Alex, Lee, Ryan and Rob pound the boards for an hour of non-stop, high-energy enchantment, whirling through Midsummer's entangled narrative threads in a flurry of wigs, tutus and bedsheet togas.
Rather than translate the play into modern English, as some kid-friendly adaptations are wont to do, the performers preserve most of the original lines, guiding their young audience members through the plot with some incredibly acrobatic, belly-slapping physical comedy. And it works beautifully on many levels: the kids are introduced to Shakespeare in a fun, accessible way, and Midsummer's good-humoured raunchiness is allowed to play out in full effect, to the enjoyment of all ages. Because let's face it, calling a man Bottom will always be hilarious, then and now.
Highfalutin adult nonsense aside, the kids love it. The booming and banging and general onstage ruckus meets its equal in the sheer enthusiasm lavished upon them by the audience, which ranges from babes-in-arms to primary-school children. At one point, when the bubble machines come out, a gaggle of little ones rush the stage with a degree of zeal that would not have been misplaced at Warped Tour.
Even in this age of social distancing, the show feels reminiscent of a children's birthday party: relaxed, sugar-spun, a bit wild. Toddlers are chased down the aisles with water pistols, and once again hearing the panto cry of 'he's behind you!' makes it easy to forget, even momentarily, life outside the marquee. Indeed, when even jokes involving diseased children and face shields can land, you do wonder if we actually have been transported to Shakespeare's fictitious Athens, a magical land where rude jokes and silliness reigns supreme forevermore.
A Rubbish Midsummer Night's Dream, Pleasance Courtyard, until Sunday 29 August, 2.15pm, £12 (£10).