A Midsummer Night's Dream
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, run ended
Since its premiere in New Delhi in April 2006, Tim Supple’s multilingual Dream seems to have conquered the resistance of every audience it has played to. Its first (though surely not last) appearance in front of Scottish audiences looks to have made the same impression. The remarkable achievement of this production (particularly given that it is performed in a series of disparate Subcontinental languages, as well as English) is its elegant simplicity.
Here, the story of the four young lovers’ journey into the forest to resolve their erotic cross purposes, their encounters with the magical Puck (Ajay Kumar) and the multiple reconciliations of couples, alongside the honest artisan mechanicals’ mishaps, is all driven by love, with little else to intervene. The sensuality of each couple’s encounter, the sense of quiet, erotic, playful caress in each contact from Hermia (Yuki Ellias) and Demetrius (Prasanna Mahagamage) all the way to Bottom (Joy Fernandes) and Titania (Archana Ramaswamy) is something that will leave those with lovers more appreciative, and those without full of quiet yearning.
Sumant Jayakrishnan’s design features a towering wooden framework covered with paper, which is torn away for the forest scenes by wild woodsmen and exuberant sprites. Meanwhile, above an earthen square, great swathes of red silk hang down to form a sensual cocoon for Ramaswamy’s sensual Titania. The unruly cacophonous mix of pounding music from both East and West eventually makes a precise accompaniment for the out of control passions of the characters, and the set pieces are a treat, especially Puck’s weaving of a mighty elastic spider’s web around the young lovers, and Titania and Oberon’s mad abandoned dance of reconciliation. In making the whole premise so simple, Supple’s production avoids any problems with pacing, while Kumar’s mohicaned Puck and Fernades’ Bottom are particular treats in a strong cast. It’ll be back – go see.