Review: ShakeSoc’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Things I like: Shakespeare, glitter (sorry, environment), and Soft Cell’s 1981 hit ‘Tainted Love’. Something I therefore liked by extension: ShakeSoc’s 48-hour production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For theatre novices who struggle to put two and two together and may have been previously unfamiliar with the concept of a 48-hour play (i.e. me), it’s very self-explanatory: it’s a production rehearsed, staged, and produced in two days. Therefore, things aren’t always going to go to plan, but when do things ever go to plan in a Shakespearean comedy?

You know the drill: boy loves girl, girl loves boy, girl’s father wants her to marry boy #2, boy #2 is obsessed with girl, girl hates boy #2’s guts, girl-#2-who-was-actually-played-by-a-boy-in-this-production is infatuated with boy #2. Fairy queen falls in drug-induced love with a donkey who’s actually a man because, like, magic. You know. Pretty standard romcom fare.

There were a few slip-ups with lines forgotten and cues missed, but these were either covered up or laughed off by cast and audience alike. And there was a lot of laughter – a couple of times it was actually a struggle to hear what the cast was saying. In the true spirit of Shakespeare, there was innuendo and eyebrow waggling in abundance, and the comic timing of the cast was excellent, particularly from Hermia in her role as Lysander’s long-suffering girlfriend.

The 80s soundtrack and costumes were on point, as was the amount of glitter, and I’m not interested in seeing another Shakespeare adaptation ever again if ‘Tainted Love’ isn’t played at some point (it’s a versatile song, okay). The show opened with a dramatic dance sequence to Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’, so we were already off to a good start.

Along with the updated wardrobe and musical choices, there were other changes, such as the casting of a male actor to play the character of Helena.

Towards the end of the play, Peter Quince and his fellow players’ performance of Pyramus and Thisbe was a particular highlight. Spoiler: Pyramus dies, and it’s very funny. So does Thisbe. This is also very funny.

This may have been my first time watching 48-hour play, but in my role as self-professed theatre novice I was incredibly impressed with what the cast and crew managed to achieve in that time. The whole show was just a lot of fun. A lot of glittery, Shakespearean fun, which is really all you could ask from a Saturday night.

 

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