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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare


Royal Exchange Theatre, 9 July 2012

Jonathan Broadbent as Oberon.  Photo - Jonathan Keenan

Jonathan Broadbent as Oberon. Photo – Jonathan Keenan

There is an immense amount of comedy and fun to be had in this boisterous version of the Bard’s whimsical romance.

We are given a fair portion of stand-up to start, as a tease towards the main event.  The almighty (supposedly so, at any rate) Oberon strides on stage dressed as a bespectacled superhero: Jonathan Broadbent takes this role, and he was born to play the part.  And there’s an all-in scrap, involving even some members of the audience, where sausage rolls serve as slingshots.  Not your average William Shakespeare production, not by a long chalk.

Golden language it remains, however, and the central thrust of the play – all about how love and sexual attraction is a perverse business at the best of times – holds true.  Or, more simply: there’s no accounting for taste.

It would be an interesting exercise, certainly, to compare Oberon here with Wagner’s Wotan.  How do these respective immortals rate?  They are both fallible but Shakespeare’s immortal is more chilled out, more reconciled to his blunderbuss shortcomings.  Perhaps Wotan lacks a sense of humour?

About 18 months ago I saw Filter’s terrific take on Twelfth Night and, before that, their version of Three Sisters.  This production is as inventive and as good.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 12 August, further details can be found here.