Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream *****

Have your say

At Hull Truck Theatre

SHAKESPEARE occasionally gave his plays alternative titles. Dream could also be called “The Theatre Critic’s Occupational Hazard”.

In a dozen years I have seen this play around 20 times. This is the most thrilling version and the most inventive reading of the script I have ever seen. Co-producers Headlong, one of the UK’s most innovative companies, are led by one of the great contemporary theatre makers in Rupert Goold. He is not at the helm of this production, but director Natalie Abrahami takes charge with all the invention, wit and panache you expect from the company behind mega hit Enron.

The action is moved from Athens to 1960s Hollywood. Theseus and Hippolyta are no longer Duke and Queen of the state, rather Hollywood royalty in the mould of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor – when we meet them, they have wrapped on Cleopatra. Everything about the concept works. Puck/Robin Goodfellow, becomes the director of the film, sitting in his chair watching the actors, making notes while waiting for his time in the moonlight. The often tedious Rude Mechanicals become the film crew – it is the first time I have not wished their performance of Pyramus and Thisbe be cut from a production. The four young Athenian lovers are bit-part actors in the movie. Everyone uses the brilliant concept to great advantage – none more so than Sandy Grierson who plays Puck as Al Pacino, giving the language beautiful musicality. This is the sort of production that reminds you why you love theatre.

To Mar 12.