Skip to main content

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Three stars

Leaving aside the unintended irony of the first night of Shakespeare's sunniest rom-com being rained off, if ever there was a play to be seen outdoors, A Midsummer night's Dream is the one. This was made clear once the seasons finally smiled on Emily Reutlinger's production, the second of this year's Bard in the Botanics season, which serves up a bright, youthful but utterly serious take on the play.

It starts with grey-robed besties Hermia and Helena appearing to have taken a vow of silence before the pair let rip with their heart's desires. With Theseus' attempts to preside over both greeted with disdain, once the pair morph into Bottom and Titania respectively, it looks more like they've not quite come down from Glastonbury.

As performed by just five lead actors, there's a trippiness in the way each character melds into another, as if they're being led astray between realities. Such high spirits are accentuated by an acoustic guitar-wielding Lysander, a ukulele-playing princess and a trio of fairies who look like they've wandered out of the dance tent.

If Martin Donaghy makes a swaggeringly shamanic Puck while David Rankine plays Lysander with an archness somewhere between Blackadder and Hollyoaks, this Dream belongs to the women. As played by Meghan Tyler and Joanne Thomson, Hermia and Helena are stronger, more assertive and more sexually knowing than sometimes seen, and their sparring here is a furious delight. Once the lovers come to, even the Mechanicals' botched take on Pyramus and Thisbe seems to have hidden depths before the finale sources the ultimate anthem for free spirits everywhere.

The Herald, July 6th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …