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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It)


King’s Theatre
4 stars 
When a rowdy bunch burst noisily through the auditorium wielding a 
felled, full-size tree-trunk at the opening of Dmitry Krymov’s Russian 
language  reimagining of Shakespeare’s frothiest rom-com, only the 
little dog padding about astride the tree truly knows what we’re in 
for. Krymov’s production, commissioned by the Chekhov International 
Theatre Festival for his School of Dramatic Art Theatre, after all, is 
billed as something ‘after Shakespeare’ rather than of it.

So it goes in a wildly irreverent work that puts the Rude Mechanicals 
at the centre of the action rather than cast as the usual comic fall 
guys, even if there are prat-falls aplenty. Once the tree-trunk, then a 
leaky fountain, is disposed of on a stage covered with plastic 
sheeting, the troupe of players change into formal attire as they await 
their audience. This comes in the shape of a bunch of disgruntled 
toffs, whose mobile phones interrupt the action in a makeshift VIP area 
even as the sternest of their number complains throughout.

There is no forest and no Bottom’s dream, only Pyramus and Thisbe, who 
come in the form of giant junk-shop puppets operated by the 
Mechanicals. There are acrobatics and operatics, while the dog does 
back-flips in-between fending off a rubbish lion, able to take anything 
in his four-legged stride.

On one level, this is a glorious entertainment, right down to a finale 
involving a part Scat, part Kurt Schwitters style chorus and a 
tippy-toed take on Swan Lake. On another, it’s a fantastical 
theatrical in-joke performed with vaudevillian largesse. As the little 
old lady who’s been growling through proceedings onstage herself says, 
Shakespeare would have loved it.

The Herald, August 25th 2012

ends



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