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A Midsummer Night’s Dream & The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare

Propeller

The Lowry, 26 & 28 February 2014

A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Photo ©NOBBY CLARK: nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo ©NOBBY CLARK: nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

A bounty of bawdy – with more than a modest helping of heartfelt lyricism.

That’s what this year’s two Shakespeare plays from Propeller have in common.  The boring bits are still here too of course (yes, Shakespeare can be boring), the occasional passages of explanation and exposition, but they are downplayed.  A necessary tedium.  For the most part, there’s slapstick, naughtiness, riotous comedy, high jinks: that’s your lot.  Carry on Shakespeare.  And very welcome it is too.

What struck me this time out, though, was how well constructed these two plays are.  They are ludic devices, as elaborate as any of Feydeau’s farces; their operation is as efficient as clockwork.  You tend to forget this with Shakespeare, what with the emphasis on the famous soliloquies, the character of Hamlet, the poetry and whatnot.  As a playwright, a craftsman of the stage, he could be supreme.

In fact, here’s how I’m going to describe A Midsummer Night’s Dream from now on: a French farce but with fairies.  Enough said.

Propeller are touring A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy of Errors together throughout the UK until the end of July.  Tour dates can be found here.

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