Seldom have I encountered such universal word-of-mouth raving from all quarters of the Fringe-going population as for this enjoyably ludicrous translation of A Midsummer Night's Dream into a '70s New York disco. Oberon's is a Derek Jarmanesque vision of Studio 54, "a place of freaks and fairies" (well, duh!) in which Xander and Dimitri are deluded by psychotropic nose candy into chasing Helen rather than Mia, and a pair of identically dressed nebbishes called Vinnie are transformed into a single donkey-figure to pleasure the butterfly-breasted Titania in a "Cuban Superman" routine.
The tale is almost entirely told by the characters singing along to disco hits; thus, the Vinnies are marked out as rude mechanicals because they're workin' at the car wash, yeah, and Helen is forced by the deluded Xander and Dimitri to knock on their respective woods, so to speak. The audience scarcely needs the discreet shepherding around the Club Pleasance space in this promenade presentation, and give themselves up joyously to the tinselled daftness. The piece is more cleverly constructed than it superficially appears, but in such an atmosphere, hell, who's looking for cleverness? The Donkey Show will undoubtedly transfer to London with the same success it has enjoyed off-Broadway.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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