A Midsummer Night's Dream (3 stars)

Dundee Rep, until Sat 16 Sep

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CLASSIC

Reinhardt’s 1934 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamwas set on a hillside amidst a specially planted forest; Brook’s 1971 vision was in a white box space with trapeze artists and Michael Hoffman’s 1999 film placed the action in 19th century Tuscany. So the challenge facing director Dominic Hill is how to make his version stand out?

Shakespeare’s familiar rom-com, of course, primarily tells the tale of four young lovers escaping tyranny through the woods, and a mismatched group of aspiring theatricals rehearsing in the same moonlit forest. The play explores the mysterious power of love, while reminding us of how its excesses conflict with reason.

Magic seems to be the key to a successful version but does Hill’s production have enough? His grotesque, half human fairies firmly set the tone for this refreshingly unsweetened production, with not a Tinkerbell-a-like in sight. He has also successfully managed to create new innuendoes for a modern audience from a text hundreds of years old.

However, it is Naomi Wilkinson’s innovative design that really invokes the imagination. The weather-inspired set is as changeable as the lovers themselves and on a truly fantastical scale. But the production can be slow at times, only gaining momentum in the second half. The world weary Oberon and Titania lack passion or charisma, and while the Mechanicals are funny, they’re not hilarious. Although perhaps lacking in sparkle, it’s worth seeing for the spectacle.

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