I CAN quote lines off by heart from a Midsummer Night's Dream and I didn't even study it.
The play has been smashed to bits, de-constructed, re-constructed and blown out in a great bowel-blast of a utterly engaging nonsense
I read the play at university but that was for leisure when I should have been studying my law degree.
I'd worked out by then that trust law was the mental equivalent of hanging, drawing and quartering. Midsummer Night's Dream provided a simple, distracting delight. The course of true law never did run smooth.
What I never imagined while reading the play is that somebody could re-think Midsummer Night's Dream like Filter Theatre has.
Shakepeare's story of the mishaps amongst lovers in Athens caught up in a fairy feud has been smashed to bits, de-constructed, re-constructed and blown out in a great bowel-blast of a utterly engaging nonsense.
This is Shakespeare as laugh-a-minute, crash bang wallop comedy with a capital C. Despite the flying expletives I'll be back with my twelve and fifteen year old sons.
They'll love it.
The trick to this Midsummer Night's Dream is putting 'the mechanicals' (the country bumpkins) centre stage led by Peter Quince played wonderfully by Ed Gaughan. This starts with a monologue that despite being rude to our esteemed monarch is still very funny.
Nick Bottom, soon to be ass-transformed, was played by Fergus O'Donnell. The way Filter Theatre get Bottom into the play is a proper giggle and a miles wide deviation from the original text. O'Donnell possibly outshone Gaughan.
Oberon (Jonathan Broadbent) played as a slapstick super-hero, awkward and risible does a fine job too, as does the truculent Puck, (Ferdy Roberts). Poppy Miller as the lusty Titania overacts her passion for Bottom with real relish.
There is no interval, just 105 minutes of unrelenting mischief. The staging is superb and the numerous musical interludes a delight.
Purists might find this deconstruction of Shakespeare's work hard to take, but you suspect the Bard would have approved. It's coarse, it's bawdy, it's unsophisticated, all elements integral to the man from Stratford.
You wouldn't want this to happen to Macbeth but it works here, after all Midsummer Night's Dream's job as a play has always been to entertain while the 'visions appear' before the audience's eyes.
Filter Theatre should be congratulated, for the production, for the verve they bring to the acting, and for the excellent use of the theatre in the round space of The Royal Exchange.
If anybody requires some light relief this summer then this production, directed by Sean Holmes, will deliver it and more.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is on until 12 August at The Royal Exchange, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH.
You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield
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