A Midsummer Nights Dream is currently one of Shakespeare’s most performed works, possibly due to the fact it offers widely diverse interpretation. The play conveys the wild night experienced by three groups; the lovers (Moseley, Lightbody, Animashaun, Dunne), the mechanicals (Gaughan, Buckley, Branch, De Barra) and the fairies (Broadbent, Roberts, Simmons) in a magical forest setting. A series of mix-ups orchestrated by king of the fairies Oberon causes lovers’ quarrels, frantic chases and general chaos that needs to be resolved before King Theseus’s fast approaching wedding.
Filter Theatre reminds us that Shakespeare was a modernist, violently contemporary for his time, and yet we have a rooted compulsion to cage him in the past. Although they may not profess to do it consciously, Filter Theatre challenges preconceived perceptions of the characters for old fans of Shakespeare while making them accessible for newcomers. With the help of a diverse cast and raw performances, Filter’s beautifully refreshing rendition of the Bard’s Dream shines new and interesting light on what is arguably an overdone piece.
This performance definitely earns its placement within the genre of comedy; Filter’s playfulness is addictive, whether it is through stand-up, slapstick clowning or good old innuendo you will be laughing for a solid 90 minutes straight. Gaughan’s Peter Quince becomes a stand-up host effectively building rapport with both his acting team and audience. Broadbent’s Oberon and Roberts’ Puck are the ultimate comedy duo. The former portrays a loveably goofy bespectacled Oberon who is rather indicative of Despicable Me’s villainous Vector. This balances beautifully with grumpy sidekick Puck (Roberts), a rocker roadie/stage hand figure who proceeds to trash the stage then grumble when faced with the prospect of cleaning it up – a nice reflection of the character’s purpose and actions within the plot. In fact, there isn’t a weak link within the cast, all delight and humour in their own special way.
Not only does Filter theatre update Shakespeare’s script, but also all the technological aspects of the spectacle are brought up to speed for a modern audience. The live band and sound system really sets this performance apart and brings a whole new exciting aspect to the piece.
Despite some occasional drops in pace where improvisation is indulged, this rendition of Shakespeare’s Dream is jam-packed with playful, yet highly accomplished comic devices. Filter Theatre reinvigorates A Midsummer Nights Dream with life and passion as each wall boxing the old classic is broken down – literally.
- By William Shakespeare
- Devised by Filter
- Co-Directed by Sean Holmes and Stef O’Driscoll
- Cast includes Jonathan Broadbent, Ferdy Roberts, Ed Gaughan, Victoria Moseley, Clare Dunne, Hammed Animashaun, John Lightbody, Cat Simmons, Andrew Buckley, Chris Branch and Keith De Barra
- The Lyric Hammersmith, London
- Until 19th March 2016
- Review by Camille Hainsworth-Staples
- 1 March 2016