A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Steve Cramer
- 18 October 2007
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 23–Sat 27 Oct
Okay, let me fess up. The prospect of another production of the Dream will, generally, fail to fill me with the joys of life, despite the great text’s best intentions in that direction. Like most theatre critics I’ve seen more productions of this, possibly Shakespeare’s greatest, and certainly his most performed comedy than I care to remember. So why am I looking forward to, and strongly recommending this one?
Well, for one, Michael Billington, the great Guardian critic has described it as, ‘the most life-affirming production of Shakespeare’s play since Peter Brook’s’.
High praise indeed, and Tim Supple’s production has received similar accolades from critics and audiences alike, creating storms of applause in India where it first appeared and at its British premiere with the RSC over a year ago. Supple’s version incorporates actors and creative staff from India, Sri Lanka and the UK, and sees dialogue uttered in three languages. The cultural referents of the piece are manifold, from what sounds like a kind of subcontinental magic realism to a more traditionally English interpretation.
Yet, the story is still one of love and repression. Its four young lovers still enter a world of wish fulfilment in their forest and dream world, swapping and unswapping partners in a darker, more subconscious world of desire, where taboos can be broken and etiquette ignored. In this production too, the mechanicals, so often treated as simple throwaway light comedy are, by every account men of greater substance and significance to the text. If Supple’s production lives up to half its hype, this piece might well stay in the memories of even the most time-hardened critics for some time to come.