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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

1970 was a great year. Carlos Alberto scored the greatest goal I had ever seen in the World Cup for Brazil, and Peter Brook’s production of this play enchanted and entranced me.

Published on June 20th 2006.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Dash Arts/British Council

1970 was a great year. Carlos Alberto scored the greatest goal I had ever seen in the World Cup for Brazil, and Peter Brook’s production of this play enchanted and entranced me. They both vividly light up my mind nearly four decades later.

How astonishing then, that on the same day 36 years later both these events should be equalled, perhaps even eclipsed. Today’s Cambiasso goal for Argentina (part of their demolition of Serbia & Montenegro) restored my faith in the beautiful game.

Later on that same day I witnessed another magical event. A life affirming production of the same play I had seen in 1970, that same year as the Alberto goal.

In preparation for my evening of language pyrotechnics I had studied intensively (with Jayne Robinson as my tutor) for eight weeks prior to my trip to Stratford. I was a novice in Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Sinhalese, Sanskrit. Gordo did the English bit for me.

At the end of this exhilarating two and half hours an entirely new play had appeared. I was seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream as if for the first time. More magic from the RSC. It even eclipsed Argentina.

This is a play about magic. It conjures joy, sex and more sex, coupled with unbridled athleticism, dancing and singing. This was a “Dream“ I had never seen before.

The design was breathtaking in both its Shakespearian relevance and in its setting in modern day Mumbai, which was astonishing. Paper, ropes, masking tape, red earth, silk and acrobatic daring took the breath away. It all worked like a dream.

On a balmy night in Stratford everything was quite perfect. A magical evening, one to remember and revere forever.

Brilliantly directed by Tim Supple this Indian Dream with a nod to the Kama Sutra owes much to Sumant Jayakrishnan’s wonderful design. It’s hard to find the words to describe its splendours, other than to tell you it was awesome.

Every member of the ensemble adds to the fantastical production. Naming them all would be too lengthy and picking favourites impossible, but their joint contribution to the performance was tremendous. There is however an aubergine (by which there hangs a tale) that sent numerous GCSE students into total hysterics.

At the end of this extraordinary evening the audience cheered to the echo and gave the whole ensemble a five minute standing and cheering ovation. Not a regular occurrence in Stratford, and in fact the last one I recall was for Antony Sher (as he then was) in Richard III many years ago.

The bad news is that this night of nights and production of productions has finished its run at Stratford. It was only around for seven days but is certainly going to appear shortly somewhere else in the UK .

Wherever you see it advertised, book tickets. Cancel all your other arrangements and get on your way. If Stornaway is the nearest outpost for you, pack your tent, put the duvets and the family into the back of your Bradford Jowett van and get there.

Buying the programme ( £3.50 ) would also be a provide an enhancement to moments of stunning joy. Like Cambiasso’s goal!!

What a wonderful start to The Complete Works Festival at Stratford, and with ten months to go, book your tickets now and enjoy this unique experience.

Richard Burbage
Email me

The RSC Complete Works Festival
01789 403444 for a full festival guide
» www.rsccompleteworks.co.uk

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