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The Donkey Show

  • Theatre, Shakespeare
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Hen do-ish take on Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

This smash off-Broadway oddity is approaching its twentieth anniversary, and it’s back in London with an explosion of glitter cannons, gyrating booties and disco bangers. It’s the plot of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ stripped bare (and I mean bare) and expressed through the medium of floor-fillers by the likes of Rose Royce and Gloria Gaynor. It’s 90 minutes of hard-bodied pole dancers and lukewarm sauciness determined to whip its audience into a frenzy of sequins and sweat.

There are some witty song choices, as the lovers’ quarrel is tracked to Thelma Houston’s ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, and some bruisingly forced ones, as the two twins standing in for Bottom are revealed to work in a ‘Car Wash’. Everything flows nicely, with director Ryan Mcbride stitching set-piece into set-piece without ever letting the tempo drop. Diego Pitarch’s costumes are appropriately spangly, and his smart set of four dais-mounted poles creates a shifting performance space that keeps the audience inches from the nearest posing-pouch.

But an hour-and-a-half is a long time for any but the most hammered of audiences to maintain their enthusiasm, and after an energetic start things quickly sag into bemusement. It’s too content-light for theatre, too tame for circus, too vanilla for cabaret. Technically impressive and boisterously performed, it’s still squarely aimed at an audience who’ll lose their shit when ‘It’s Raining Men’ drops. That’s Hentertainment!

Written by
Stewart Pringle


£25-£45. Runs 1hr 30min
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