“The theatre is the home of the imagination or it’s nothing.” Hugh Quarshie
Shakespeare’s Globe in London is not a theater for a detached, inattentive audience. Actors frequently launch scenes from the middle of the main floor, in front of the stage. Earlier in September, our study abroad group attended a sold-out performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, which had a terrific Bollywood flavor. Characters spent a good amount of time bouncing around non-traditional acting areas, eliciting roars of delight for their saucier lines and gestures.
It’s a mischievous play about runaway lovers, featuring a fed-up, then bespelled and beguiled fairy queen, a scheming fairy king and a wild and wily Puck, self-proclaimed “merry wanderer of the night.” They interfere with the human realm and love goes awry every which way! Adding to the mayhem is a play within the main play where inept actors pop up and practice their lines with dubious results.
This production offers the Shakespearean script with a spare set and mostly modern (Tasteless! Tacky!) clothing combined with bizarre fairy costumes. It’s a blend of classic and contemporary that emphasizes the pathos and hysteria of infatuation and love. Present-day humor pops up here and there – just enough to get a good laugh (and make a point). My favorite scene: lovelorn Hermia and Helenus break into a dance number to Beyonce’s song, Put a Ring on It. Hysterical. Another, when Oberon tells Puck to cast a spell on a young man and says, “Thou shalt know the man by the hipster garments he hath on.” And all backed by music from a sitar. Ha!