Wae’aye pet, whose idea was it to make Shakespeare’s Bottom from Byker Grove?
The Globe’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set for an Asian tour and they’re trying out the production at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre this week.
Last night’s disappointing opening revealed the production, almost entirely recast from its 2013 success, to be a work in progress.
The story of merry-go-round relationships involving three couples is told in period dress and Shakespearean language – though, inexplicably features a musical burst of Queen’s We Will Rock You (eh?)
It is a tale of magic and romance, feral fairies and a smattering of bestiality courtesy of an enchanted ass called Bottom.
Trevor Fox ought to come with subtitles. What will audiences in China and Russia make of his strong Geordie accent, later complicated by being muffled by a donkey’s head?
The highlight of this lacklustre production is the performance of the play’s mechanicals, a group of tradesmen charged with putting on a play for the royal wedding of Hippolyta and Theseus.
We first encounter them doing a very free-form clog dance, which turns out as a cross between Morris dancing and the very worst of Riverdance.
Among the crew is Nick Bottom who provides the comic relief (if only we could understand him) though all six are funny in their own right.
Their leader Peter Quince (Brendan O’Hea) has a problem keeping his hands off other men; the awfully skinny Flute (someone give Steffan Donnelly a meal!) gabbles his lines after being lumbered with the woman’s role; John Cummins‘ Snout ends up as a wall; Snug (Richard Bremmer) can’t find his motivation as a lion and Starveling (Huss Garbiya) ends up reflecting the moon and mourning his dead dog.
Overseeing the tale is King Theseus (Aden Gillett) – who is far more mischievous and interesting when in the fairy world as Oberon – and the spirited Hippolyta, or the fairy queen Titania (Janie Dee).
The spellbound Titania is ribald and lusty. There’s a fair bit of groping going on.
This tangled story of love features four young lovers – Hermia loves Lysander but is betrothed to Demetrius while Helena loves Demetrius and is initially disliked by both men – until the ill-advised intervention of the magical sprite, Puck.
Molly Logan’s Puck is Oberon’s kick ass court jester and she captures the imp’s playfulness.
With a nod towards the production’s export market, the show ends with the cast performing a Tai Chi routine (one wonders if a Cossack dance is in store for the Russian theatres).
The dance is a measure of the show. Dominic Drumgoole’s production is slow and reflective with only an occasional burst of brilliance.
Running until Sunday.