A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2 stars)

This article is from 2012

A Midsummer Night’s Dream - hopefully getting image asap

Shakespeare adaptation barely scratches the surface of the play’s comic potential

In detention with Mr Goodfellow, seven secondary-school pupils are forced – as if by magic – to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream for some misdemeanour. However, the school setting is quickly dropped, forgotten for a bog-standard staging, and it starts to feel like we’re the ones being punished.

By not attempting any sort of interpretation, London-based Custom/Practice’s production has little reason to exist. It works only as an introduction to Shakespeare’s play – and even then, lacks the fun and invention to turn anyone onto his work.

Glittery, becloaked fairies twirl and float with forced elegance, while the four lovers suffer their entangled romances without any sense of impending chaos. The Mechanicals – led by Lorenzo Martelli’s pompous Bottom – have barely scratched the surface of the play’s comic potential.

Ultimately, Rae McKen’s company treat the play too demonstratively, such that Lysander and Demetrius literally leave the stage ‘cheek by jowl’, their faces squished together. The text is recited rather than embodied.

There is one exception: Mr Goodfellow himself, played with real rhythmic flair, both physical and vocal, by Lanre Malaolu.

Assembly George Square, 623 3030, until 27 Aug, 4pm, £14--£15 (£13--£14).

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