It's about time techies were given their due; The Pocket Dream, whose heroine is a short and comprehensively harassed stage manager, at last pays appropriate homage. But how po-faced some critics have been about it! As if classic slapstick and the farce of a theatrical production going horribly wrong are not enough, simply because they've been seen before. As if a pantomime version of the mechanicals' play (which, I'm sorry, isn't the greatest theatrical parody ever written and thus sacrosanct) is a torture because of compulsory audience participation, including a Mexican lion's-roar.
Yes, we all recognise the stereotyped characters called upon to salvage the Henry Irving Players' A Midsummer Night's Dream; yes, they're acted (with the chucklesomely sardonic exception of Sandi Toksvig) almost as coarsely as the Shakespearean bits; yes, we know from the start how their relationships will develop – but it's handled with aplomb and it happens to be very funny. Mike McShane and Phelim McDermott, in particular, exuberate and gangle respectively to comically grotesque extremes. This is more intelligently put together and certainly more vibrantly performed than Run For Your Dinner Trousers, and it gives an audience of nearly 900 a baronial hoot. To commandeer a slogan much in evidence elsewhere at the moment: stuff art, let's giggle.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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