A Midsummer Night's Dream
Types of venues , Theatre
Until Wed Sep 5 2012
© Johan Persson
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Wed Jun 13 2012
It's bigger, fatter, but not exactly dreamier at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, where Matthew Dunster's downmarket production of Shakespeare's comedy starts promisingly, grows confused and leaves a nasty aftertaste.
It all kicks off with a bare-knuckle brawl: Dunster swaps Shakespeare's magical Athenian woodland for the concrete and caravans of a community of travellers. When courtship involves grabbing, the play's harsh patriachy makes perfect sense. A ripe shiner even suggests that David Birrell's construction kingpin Theseus isn't speaking metaphorically about wooing his fiancée Hippolyta with injuries.
Yet, by the end, nothing much has changed, despite a supposedly transformative night in the enchanted woods for the four young lovers.
When the sequined wedding dresses come out, it looks like misogyny, tastelessness and class have been unquestioningly equated. At least 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' seeks some understanding. This just makes sport.
It's not helped by confused loose ends. Oliver Johnstone's Puck, a masked hoody on a BMX, invokes the spirit of last summer's riots gratuitiously, but doesn't fit in with the nu-age mysticism of other supernatural characters. Elsewhere, there are great performances and neat touches, but as Dunster's concept runs away from him, his 'Dream' unravels, too clever for its own good.