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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Emma Rice lays down the gauntlet for her first production at the Shakespeare Globe

| Theatre | 26/05/2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream © Shakespeare's Globe
A Midsummer Night's Dream © Shakespeare's Globe

Emma Rice’s first production as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s The Globe is a heart-punching show, full of energy, eccentricity and magic.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first production of the new Wonder Season at The Globe.

It’s a play fit for all ages; from your youth when all you want to be is a fairy from a distant magical land, to your adult years where you endeavour across the perilous pitfalls of love, and as age, you will yearn for its maturity.  In her first production, Rice throws down the gauntlet – if this is how she starts, The Globe could not be in safer hands.The most endearing feature of the play is the manner in which the actors are able to tell a great story, in the most exciting of ways.  The Globe stage is entirely transformed into a fairyland that thoroughly entertains.  However, Shakespeare, the greatest playwright, his work is simply a tool by which the actors bring a story, bring an essence of humanity and bring wonder to the Globe.

Though many have tried to re-imagine Shakespeare for a new generation, the manner in which Rice achieves this is astonishing.  She does not just stray from the conventional path, but she forges a new one – one that brings plenty of joy, warmth and magic to the Globe.  Rice effortlessly uses the poetry of Shakespeare to transport the Globe audience into a world far beyond our own.  There is wonder around every corner.

Nandi Bhebhe as the First Fairy © Shakespeare's Globe

Nandi Bhebhe as the First Fairy © Shakespeare’s Globe

It is obvious to see that there has been a fair bit of re-writing and editing of the original Shakespeare play.  The fairies are dressed in a somewhat outlandish, kinky mix between tribal and Elizabethan contour, whilst the Athenians are decked in modern-day casual clothes.  Far from being Athenians, they are Londoners rushing through the forest in search of a ‘Hoxton hipster.’

The production is by far one of the most entertaining that I have visited in years of writing for What’s On London.  There is plenty of energy, excitement and the visuals, songs and choreography come together in the most wonderful blend.

Rice is determined that her stay as artistic director will increase the proportion of female actors on The Globe stage.  Judging her first production the standard has been set, as the talent was wonderful.  Nandi Bhebhe as the First Fairy is the quiet mischievous one who injects the show with its energy through a number of high-tempo dance and song routines.  Whilst Margaret Anne Bain is a strong Philostrate and Anjana Vasan is especially cool as the funky Hermia.  Finally, Katy Owen’s is absolutely joyful and wonderful Puck.

There is a great warmth to Rice’s first production as Artistic Director of The Globe.  The problem now is she has set the bar so high; she has a lot of added pressure for the rest of the Wonder Season.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a pure delightful production at the Globe; above the stage the Shakespearean words, ‘Rock the ground’, are clearly illuminated, and boy does this production rock.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at the Shakespeare’s Globe until 11 September 2016.

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