(I’m attempting to post while waiting for my flight, but I’m not sure the photo uploads are working. Apologies in advance for any troubles.)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a play I’ve done a lot, so it’s not high on my To See list. However, when I read that not only was it being done by the Bridge Theater, the company Jason saw do Julius Caesar in the round on platforms, but it boasted both acrobatics and a twist with Oberon, Jason and I decided to add it to our itinerary for my last weekend in London.
I’m so glad we did! It’s by far the best production of the play I’ve seen. First, the theater itself is terrific. It was founded in 2017 by Nicholas Hynter, formerly of the National Theater. It’s aptly named, given that this is the view when we exited:
The acting was spot on and the audience was lively. The playing space is in the round with platforms that would rise among the Groundlings who were herded in and out of place by the hard-working ushers.
The mechanicals were hilarious, especially Bottom. The actor reminded me of the actor we saw play the genie in Aladdin, and the director happily gave his actors plenty of chances to riff on their strengths without sacrificing the script. For example, when the mechanicals panic about whether there is a moon out the night of the play and scramble for a calendar, they kept calling for one until the groundlings, predictably, started holding up their phones. The actors picked one, look at it, then held it back out to the audience member as Bottom said, “Unlock thy calendar, I beseech thee!”
The promised twist was more than I expected – they swapped Titania and Oberon’s parts so Oberon was the one put under the spell to love Bottom. It worked so well, giving Titania (/women) a fairer share of the power and giving way for a hilarious seduction scene that culminated with Bottom and Oberon being wheeled on in a bubble bath, toasting each other with champagne and being serenaded by a diva in a black evening gown.
Between that, a perfectly Puckish Puck, a solid lovers’ fight scene, and frequent acrobatics by the fairies on fabric swings, I spent the entire show with a grin on my face when I wasn’t laughing outright.
We also indulged in the British tradition and had ice cream at interval.
We did hold back, though, from purchasing the flower hair wreaths that were of course for sale.