Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Play For The Nation, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

“Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company”

Surtitled A Play For The Nation, Erica Whyman’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the RSC has fully embraced the communal spirit that the best theatre can summon and across its UK tour over the next few months, will undoubtedly prove a wonderful tribute for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. For at each stop across the land, different local amateur theatre companies will take on the part of the Rude Mechanicals and local primary schools will make up the numbers of Titania’s fairy train, getting their moment to shine in a repurposed final scene.

It’s a rather lovely way to share the warmth of this most loveliest of plays and in Whyman’s hands, it really does succeed. Key to its inclusiveness is the relocation to 1940s Britain and a design from Tom Piper that subtly evokes the Tower of London poppies installation on which he collaborated, the suggestion of a society pulling together permeating every aspect of the show, even Oberon’s fairies muck in as live musicians. And the social disruption of the time allows for an interesting reading of the text which, while emphasising English bumptiousness over sexuality, is witty throughout. Continue reading “Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Play For The Nation, Royal Shakespeare Theatre”

Review: The Horror! The Horror!, Wilton’s Music Hall

“I know what you’re thinking, you’ve seen it all before…”

Much like we all carry our own sense of humour with us, we all too have our own individual fears and dreads. Which means we don’t all find the same things funny (I barely laughed in One Man, Two Guvnors for example) and, as Hallowe’en fast approaches, it makes it difficult to guarantee that something is scary for everyone. A proliferation of shows across London are all determined to send shivers down our spine, but none can have been so initially successful as Theatre of the Damned’s The Horror! The Horror! which sold out its run at Wilton’s Music Hall before it had even started.

As the main hall is being renovated, this Victorian-era promenade show takes place in the shadowy spaces and ramshackle rooms upstairs at Wilton’s and takes the form of a sneak preview of the new season of work from A.S. Brownlow & Company, a group of performers whose acts have all taken something of a gruesome turn. From saucy singers provoking mysterious men to vengeful magicians bitterly resisting the arrival of the future, a cabaret of the grisly and ghastly emerges from the ghosts of the past. And there are puppies. Oh, the puppies. Continue reading “Review: The Horror! The Horror!, Wilton’s Music Hall”