“Yes please!” Kirsty and I said simultaneously with huge grins plastered across our faces. Sat on London South Bank for some lunch, we were approached by 2 tourists who won 4 tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and had a pair to give away. We couldn’t believe our luck, it was only a few days ago that we had thought about going! With only 20 minutes until it started we finished up lunch and after a quick selfie with the girls, we headed into Shakespeare’s Globe.
Knowing that Shakespeare isn’t the easiest to follow, I did a quick Google search of the plot and was looking forward to watching Emma Rice, the director, delve into numerous love triangles in a magical world.
And magical it was. Just as Rice had intended, The Globe was decorated beautifully; a set ready for a celebration of love, intimacy and friendship explored through exceptional comedy.
Humour was injected into A Midsummer Night’s Dream right from the get go. A modern take was used to make the play easy to relate to through song, dance and costume. The characterisation and gesture were excellent, particularly when both chasing and rejecting love. Hermia (Anjana Vasan) simply couldn’t contain herself when Lysander (Edmund Derrington) proposed. A young girl in love, bursting with excitement and ready to tell the world, but of course, remaining cool, calm and collected whilst in his sight.
We enter a whole new world when the fairies dance us into the forest with their weird and wonderful costume by Mortiz Junge, and particularly peculiar dance style. The fairies whisk the audience away with their enchanted temperament. Dance, choreographed by Etta Murfitt, adds its own dimension to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was received so well by the audience that there was even a bit of swaying!
Unfortunately, it can’t all be happy, as with love often comes heartbreak. Hermius wants to marry Lysander but she must marry Demetrius (Ncuti Gatwa) and Demetrius is loved by Helenus (Ankur Bahl), who he physically runs away from throughout the entire performance. Although we all laugh when Helenus is jumping on Demetrius, literally trying to pin down his love, we simply can’t help but feel sorry for him.
In the original play ‘Helenus’ is a female character named Helena, but Rice makes her a ‘him’, bringing this 19th Century play right to the heart of contemporary London. When journalist Heathe Neill questions this, Rice explains that the change in gender makes it easier for her (and most probably us) to “understand why [Demetrius] has been pushing Helenus away and why he feels the social pressure to make a ‘good marriage’”, finding a gay relationship difficult to enter. This raises the issue of social norms within families and societies, whereas Helenus being female leaves confusion as to why we should celebrate their relationship at the end, after Demetrius has previously been so cruel.
Sexuality plays its role throughout the performance with passion between lovers and sexual exploration when under Oberon’s (Zubin Varla) spell. Prepare for some nudity when Titania finds a new side to herself after setting her eyes on Bottom (Ewan Wardop)- half man, half ass.
This interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream reflects Rice’s love and dedication to Shakespeare and The Globe. It tells Shakespeare’s story accurately with a contemporary twist and has the audience in stitches throughout. It was so satisfying to be one of many leaving with a smile on my face, not only was the play amazing but we had a super spontaneous day – A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 2 o’clock in the afternoon!
Until 11 September