A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Review by Frances Winston
Dublin Castle Gardens, Dublin Castle, Dame Street, Dublin 2.
July 23rd – August 3rd at 7.30pm nightly
Tickets €6 from entertainment.ie
Believe it or not this year marks the 450th birthday of the one and only William Shakespeare aka the Bard aka the bane of many Leaving Cert students’ existence. Love him or hate him there is no denying the man was prolific and churned out some amazing work. His catalogue literally contains something for everyone and this particular play is a perennial favourite that tends to appeal across the board.
With five interconnecting plots all dealing with the complexities of love this is a whimsical fantasy that sees fairies toying with mortals who already have enough romantic issues of their own without this other worldly interference. As written this has a cast of characters of 25+ but here a mere nine actors – playing multiple roles – bring the story to life. Although the play, as written, comes in at around the three hour mark it has been cut to 90 minutes here and injected with a pulsating 70s soundtrack with the costumes reflecting the musical choice. Pair this with the sumptuous settings of Dublin Castle’s gardens and you have what can only be described as a sensory overload. The stunning greenery serves to encapsulate the feel of the forest setting in the play perfectly while the stunning walls that surround the garden give the suggestion of the city. As such they have kept the staging simple and rightly so. Stark white boxes are manipulated to create anything else the cast might need and they contrast nicely with the rich colours of the garden.
With most of the actors playing multiple roles it is important that there is a clear distinction between their various characters and on the whole this is achieved. They manage to encapsulate different voices and mannerisms depending on what role they are embodying at any one time. As with all ensemble shows some actors performances are better than others but this cast is very well balanced. All of the actors wear microphones so the sound is superb and the script editing is fabulous. If you’d never seen or read the play you wouldn’t notice that it had pretty much been cut in half!
The night I saw this some unlikely guest stars took to the stage in the form of seagulls and they added some truly humorous moments but even without these uninvited guests stars this is an hilarious production. The combination of the kitsch colourful costumes, rich language and farcical plot all combine beautifully to give the audience a truly enriching theatrical experience. If you’re one of those people who thinks of Shakespeare is “too boring” this could well change your mind. Presented by Mouth on Fire Productions who are best known for their work with Beckett’s plays they could well have carved a new niche here. This is the kind of Shakespeare that ensures new audiences discover his work and engages with everyone from 0-90! A stunning production with a fabulous soundtrack if you are fortunate enough to get a ticket you’ll be talking about this for hours afterwards.