Faith restored, third time lucky and hurrah! Last night was fabulous. I haven’t laughed like that in a while, or enjoyed something at the theatre as much since Julius Caesar. I had no idea what to expect from the title of this production and was rather dubious when I learned it was in Russian with surtitles. But from the off Dmitry Krymov’s interpretation was a great way to spend an hour and 40 minutes. We watched the mechanicals put on their show of Pyramus and Thisbe, just as in Shakespeare’s Dream it was a little shambolic!
The opening laughs came as they carried huge elements of set through the audience, a large oak tree and then a fountain spouting water as they went, several members of the audience put up their umbrellas!
The show is a visual delight, there isn’t that much talking and so not that much to read, but the performers tell the story so well and the ‘audience members’ add further humour with their interruptions and mobile phones going off! Victor Platonov has made some wonderful, humongous, puppets to portray our hero and heroine, which are manipulated by the performers. The Shustov bothers perform stunning acrobatics and the audience took an intake of breath as Boris Opletaev balanced himself on some wobbly metal cylinders!
The RST was transformed to look like a theatre that was not quite ready, just sheets draped over our chairs and an unpolished stage covered in plastic. During the prologue Sergy Melkonyan tells his audience that this is not a polished or even finished production and that they might not take enjoyment from it and indeed that was not what they were aiming for! Such wonderful humour using the original concept from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There were some slow moments in the production, but when it was going it was going!
This production has opera singers, acrobatics, puppets, music, fireworks, clever lighting, humour and a dog… could you ask for anything more?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre until the 18th August when it transfers to Edinburgh until the 26th August.