A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre
Shakespeare is a constant fixture of the London theatre scene, with directors often seeking a new take or interpretation of the Bard’s work that will appeal to a modern-day audience. Nicholas Hytner, seasoned director and co-founder of The Bridge, doesn’t necessarily offer us anything radically new, however he does ensure the play is accessible. This is arguably the dramatist at his most fun and Hytner’s playful production has the mood of a party.
Arlene Phillip’s impressive choreography, Christina Cunningham’s contemporary costume design and Sound Designer Paul Arditti’s use of Beyonce and Dizzee Rascal brings the show into the here and now, though ardent fans of the playwright may be disconcerted by Hytner’s alterations to the text. It’s Oberon as opposed to his wife, for example, who falls for Bottom and although this contributes to the comedy, certain dialogue is somewhat lost along the way. That said, others might argue this is a refreshing take on a classic with none of the changes feeling forced or detracting from the themes of the piece. For Shakespeare to be relatable whilst invoking laugh-out-loud moments for a 2019 audience is surely a good thing.
The Bridge is a large venue and although those opting for the pit are provided with the opportunity to interact with the cast whilst gaining a close-up view of their performances, even audience members up in Gallery Three are catered for with this visual feast. Bunny Christie’s inventive set incorporates ivy-wrapped beds and grassy turf with smoke machines, confetti, circus trapezes and even giant bouncing balls being passed around the groundlings at the end of the play. Bruno Poet’s lighting design adds to the celebratory vibe and enforces the dream-like atmosphere.
The entire ensemble are commendable in their performances, each of them utterly embracing their roles and the work itself. David Moorst’s Puck is presented as a somewhat hyperactive northerner with humorous audience interaction and asides, along with impressive acrobatics. Kit Young offers an assured performance as Lysander but Hammed Animashaun truly stands out as Bottom, evoking many a laugh-out-loud moment whilst providing a masterclass in comic acting.
This is an energising and exciting exploration of the text, expertly acted and guaranteed to leave you with a smile.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Bridge Theatre from 3rd June until 31st August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.