Friday, 18 April 2014

A Midsummer Night's Dream

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

It may be a tad early in the year for Shakespeare's sunniest rom-com to come blinking into the light, but that hasn't stopped the all-male Propeller company from hitting the road with the frothiest of double bills, with Ed Hall's productions of the Dream and The Comedy of Errors playing the King's on alternate nights. Neither does it stop the array of long-john clad fairies, who drape themselves about a netting-lined stage before a stripey-tighted Robin Goodfellow, as Puck is credited here, bursts out of a box feet first as if from an upside-down toybox come to life.

As the cast of fourteen flit between the play's three worlds, what follows resembles a 1980s alternative comedy troupe doing an elaborately choreographed role-play. At first, Joseph Chance's Robin seems to call the shots, click-clacking chaos into the four young lovers all-night exploits with a wooden rattle. Soon it's Darrell Brockis' Oberon who's casting a spell, in a Dream which requires little of the usual doubling up of parts.

The Mechanicals are a Dad's Army am-dram group, whose cross-gender casting of Flute as doomed lover Thisbe is a knowing wink to Propeller's own men-only aesthetic. Alasdair Craig's gangling Flute goes from stupid boy to Barbie doll as Thisbe, eventually throwing an almighty strop at Bottom's Pyramus with a Dr Who scarf that becomes a deadly weapon. Accompanied only by a bell, a xylophone and some solitary harmonica drawls, this a knockabout Dream that prompts several ovations for its comic set-pieces, even as it revels in its own magic before the spell is ended and Puck must climb back into his box once more.
 
The Herald, April 18th 2014
ends

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