I wasn’t too sure of how to write this post. So I thought I’d start with a gif.
See, yesterday I went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) directed by Dmitry Krymov from the Chekhov International Theatre Festival/ Dmitry Krymov’s Laboratory/ Theatre School of Dramatic Art in Russia, and it was batshit mental. But in a good way.
Unlike any Shakespeare I have ever seen before, this version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream focuses on the story told by the mechanicals, that of Pyramus and Thisbe. This production jumps on the idea that the mechanicals are rather hopeless, inexperienced and probably not ready at all to perform. They hope instead that they can hide the fact that their show is not ready by entertaining us so that we do not notice.
An on stage audience rolls their eyes from the balcony’s, blows saw dust off the seating and knocks over unsecured pieces of set. Soon, pieces of set are getting brought in to the theatre, a fountain sprays water all over the audience and the show within the show seems to begin.
It’s chaotic, it’s madness, it was bloody brilliant. The audience was in hysterics for the duration of the show before going into a trance like clap at the shows conclusion. Ballerina’s and vocalists and actor audience members mill around, as sponsor Fletcher describe in the programme – it’s controlled anarchy.
Then there are the puppets. Towering, six metre high puppets, mashed together to form Pyramus and Thisbe. A person on each arm, leg, and head operate the beasts while crude breasts, a blow up penis, mouth big enough to eat a whole pineapple add to the absurdity. Swans, a lion, and a real live dog are just more elements in the mix.
In creating this show the Russians have taken an old and forever repeated story and given it new life. It is crazy mental magic and really must be seen to be believed. I think you’ll either love it like I did, or really really hate it but the audience I was in seemed to absolutely adore it.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream have their last show this afternoon at 4pm. It is quite possible the craziest show I’ve ever attended. Tickets and info here.