Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
“Unique interpretation”. That’s what it says in the programme. Oh boy, you know what that means. Changes will be made.
There will be dance music, I’d bet. For the love of God, have you seen John Kavanagh’s luminous trousers on the poster? Indeed, it’s A Midsummer Night’s (Hipster) Dream. There is, however, something else in that promo image that we sort of glossed over, the wheeled walker.
Curtain up, music on, lights…wait just a second. That’s Johnny Cash’s Ghost Riders in the Sky on the sound system. And what the heck are we doing in a nursing home?
Isn’t Shakespeare’s hallucinogenic comedy all about young lovers or something; set in a forest and with fairies and love potions and aspiring (fictional) theatre players getting their rehearsal on for some wedding or other?
I don’t see any forest. What I do see is a gang of elderly folk forming a conga line. And Declan Conlon is dressed as a doctor. This is what happens when theatre-makers mess with the Bard. We gotta admit - it’s pretty darn fabulous. And then the Shakespeare talk kicks in.
Now, had director Gavin Quinn and his crew gone the whole hog and taken it upon themselves to rewrite the actual dialogue and verses, we’d have been fully on board. As it stands, this “unique interpretation” is a clunky mixture of the modern and the classic.
It’s a bit of a trip, but it also requires some serious concentration and patience.What’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream all about? I told you. Magic, young love and arranged marriage.
But Quinn has turned things on its head in that Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena aren’t kids. The love triangles have aged. Egeus is no longer a disgruntled father but instead, a difficult son.
Peter Quince (David Pearse – a man with the best delivery in Irish theatre) wears a blue hoodie. The fairies are still there, only, Puck (a stellar Daniel Reardon) is now a rock star. Barry McGovern and the aforementioned John Kavanagh have a ball as Demetrius and Lysander. So, too, do Aine Ni Mhuiri and Gina Moxley (Hermia and Helena).
The staging is magnificent – as are the costumes. Despite the exuberance of many, though, Shakespeare’s relentless, occasionally dull text infuriates, if only because it doesn’t always sync with the vibrant, 21st century setting.
This new and wacky
version is to be commended for trying something different and, in many ways, succeeding. To push a little further though would have been to create a true masterpiece of a remake.
Runs until March 28 ***