I’ve seen my fair bit of Shakespeare, including three previous versions of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, but nothing has come close to being as spectacular, as immersive and as fun.
I’m not going to give a detailed plot of the play, I could not to it justice. Only to say, for those in total ignorance of the story, that in a woods, one midsummer night, 4 young loves, a group of “actors” and a flight of fairies gather. With hilarious consequences.
The Bridge is unique in its portrayal of Shakespeare of late – as Julius Ceaser before it, which I saw when it was on, the Bridge invites the audience to either be seated or to stand in the pit, giving them an immersive experience. And you’re not just standing watching, as you may be at the Globe, you’re part of the set, you’re part of the performance, you’re part of the woods.
It may sound like it’s all very modern, and it is, but it works so wonderfully well. You feel so connected to the story. Let yourself be shepherded about by the ushers dressed in black, and fully embrace anything that’s asked of you (there’s a bit of dancing in this one, rather than chanting in Julius Caesar.) Move around at will and feel comfortable leaning on the set. Most of all, don’t feel pressured if you want to hang back.
MND is the most “musical” of Bill’s plays, often accompanied with instrumentals or songs, original or not. This particular performance was littered with dancing (both them and us), ariel hoop performances from the fairies and the odd guitar song from Lysander.
The start of the show, as people were coming into the pit and taking their seats, was accompanied by haunting, choir like singing, in which the cast, dressed as nuns and in suits, made their way through the crowd, creeping everyone out. What an entrance.
I like to think this is how Shakespeare envisioned this play, a trippy dream.
Not. A. Single. Bad. One. Everyone played their part so differently, so uniquely and so well that I can’t find fault anywhere in this cast. For me the stand outs were Gwendoline Christie (as Titania and Hippolyta), Hammed Animashaun (as Bottom) and Tessa Bonham Jones (as Helena).
I particularly liked the way Bonham Jones played Helena, she was hilarious. The lovers in the show really were TEENS, they were wrapped up in their love square and Helena was mainly, well, pissed off.
If you can get tickets, please go and see this show. It’s Shakespeare at its best.
Quick tip: my parents couldn’t get tickets online so called the theatre a few nights before and they bagged some returns! Try that if they’re sold out online.