Shakespeare's Globe, London SE1
Opened 5 June, 2002

*** Slightly ponderous pyjama-game production

All the characters are clad in nightwear, and begin the play bedding down on Li-Los. But the dream doesn't hurtle along as it should.

It's common enough for the earthly lovers Theseus and Hippolyta to be played by the same actors as fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania, but here the entire cast double as fairies (symbolised by, yes, fairy lights in their PJs!), and director Mike Alfreds makes sure that the lovers, the nobles or Bottom and the mechanicals are always, but always, being observed by some sprites.

John Ramm's Bottom is a delight a rather more confident version of his best-known character, Raymond the sidekick in the National Theatre of Brent. Simon Trinder really works at being the most puckish Puck he can be, and Paul Trussell's Quince is, refreshingly, not at all bookish but just as lumbering in his way as Bottom.

Elsewhere, though, things get overplayed. Philippa Stanton's Hermia is overwrought and over-slow, and to an extent this lack of pace affects all the lovers; in the climactic four-way confusion, they seem to saunter across the stage when they should be lunging at one another. As for the mechanicals, it's always risky to write in malapropisms of your own to match or replace Shakespeare's. On the whole it's OK, but I kept wanting to like it more than I felt I could.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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