Saturday, March 31

A Midsummer Night's Dream Click for more info

Tim Supple's production of Shakespeare's play has made it even more weird than it was anyway. Totally India-fied, the play was laced with the culture, the setting and even the languages from the sub-continent.

The last of which might be why I didn't really appreciate this as much as I should have. My basic Urdu/Hindi is bad enough without having to follow a live performance spoken it in, but the other languages (Tamil, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Bengali and Sanskrit according to the website), perhaps unsurprisingly, were totally lost on me.

I haven't read A Midsummer Night's Dream either, so I found myself not really knowing what was going on by the interval (although arriving late and so having to miss the first twenty minutes or so probably didn't help either). Still, all was not lost; once the basic plot had been explained to me a lot of what went by begun to make sense, as did the rest of the story. If you were going to watch this, I advise you to brush up on a synopsis or three before you do.

Language and plot difficulties aside, the play was pretty interesting to watch. There were acrobatics, music, fighting and dancing, all serving to literally spice up the story. Acting was alright but nothing fantastic, while the set and costume were kept basic to good effect; the stage itself was heavily layered with sand, giving a good ethnic feel to the show. The cast fitted well with the play, with Yuki Ellias (Hermia) reminding me how I really wouldn't mind hooking up with an actress.

It's worth mentioning the Roundhouse too. It's based in a part of Camden I've never been to before, around a ten minute walk from Primrose Hill. The venue itself is nice enough (it's just been recently refurbished); the round in the name is literal with a stage that protrudes right into the audience, resulting in two thirds of those watching having a side on view. Unfortunately this didn't really suit the production and being one of those on the side, I found myself missing quite a lot even thought we was only five rows away from the front.

All in all, I didn't come away from this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with the uplifting awe that I usually get after visiting the theatre, and so I guess I'll have to conced that it wasn't that amazing. Still, it was different enough to make it watchable and so it's difficult to call it a complete waste of time or money. If you want to see Shakespeare with a twist, then you probably couldn't do much worse than this.

2 comments:

  1. An Indian Dream I wish it remained, but alas, it actually happened.

    I could not enjoy the production at all. Agree with everything you have side. Whilst the concept of producing a multi-lingual play (and Tim Supple has done many of those) sounded interesting it failed to impress. Had the actors known how to act the language would not have mattered but since majority of the cast were circus acrobats it would have been useful if you knew what they were saying. Although I could understand the Hindi/Bengali bits, when it came to Tamil and Malayam and others I was slightly annoyed and this is me who knew the story very well - imagine others who didn't.

    The acoustics in the theatre was awful and I was sitting reasonably close I thought. The actors had to shout and even then it just registered as noise to my ears.

    The only audible part of the play was when Lysander is confronted by Hermia, post-spell, and he says to her: "Ami shudu Helena ke bhalobashi, ami tomake GRINNAH kori!" [translated: I only love Helena, I despise you!]
    But that was because he was at the corner of the stage facing me at that point.

    It was entertaining but on a more superficial level- the setting, the stage, the-acrobatic-things-they-did, the dances - were o-k, not so 'wow'.

    I wouldn't recommend it, but if you do go watch it it would be useful to know the story before hand. Although even then I would say don't bother...

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  2. The first twenty minutes REALLY annoyed me, as I'd always thought Shakespeare was all about the writing, and what will all those languages! But then I just ended up enjoying it sort of as Shakespeare-as-broadbrush-fairytale.

    Some of the acting was atrocious particularly when they were speaking in English, which I'm guessing for most of them was a second language. Reminds me of a recent Norwegian production of Metamorphoses I saw, again there was something similar, the acting didn't quite hit the spot. However, when they were speaking in Tamil / Bengali whatever, the acting wasn't quite so bad. I guess it's similar to how, although I'm at least conversationally fluent in Bengali, I actually feel more confident expressing myself in English, and my guess is the emotional weight of what I'm saying is more obvious to others when I speak in English rather than Bengali.

    Puck, I thought was fantastic, and I rather liked bottom.

    Yes, the acoustics were terrible, and sitting on the side ain't great. But ultimately I rather enjoyed it. A bit like Mexican I guess...even the bad stuff is worth eating, and then it just gets tastier and tastier the better the frijoles!

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