A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), after William Shakespeare, Barbican. Review by Julia Pascal.

 

Perhaps the most tedious part of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the Pyramus and Thisbe interlude but director Dmitry Krymov has made it a wonderful spectacle of surrealism and circus.

Krymov started his career as a set designer and it is the visual that dominates his staging.

There is very little text, and what there is, is projected onscreen.  Pyramus and Thisbe are two huge puppets.  Pyramus is able to have an erection.  Thisbe pisses onstage.  The witty manipulation of these monsters is a marvel of mechanical skill from the Dmitry Krymov Lab.

The conceit is that the rude mechanicals/the actors are not ready to open their performance even though their posh audience is dressed up and ready to watch them play.  We, the Barbican audience, watch Krymov’s audience come onstage to observe the mechanicals’ offering.  There is a triple level of dramatic fracturing going on and, although the production appears to be simple circus and clowning, it is a highly sophisticated deconstruction of theatre itself.

There are subtle references to the original and even a Shakespearian sonnet, in Russian.  However the work exists on many levels of absurdism and self-mockery.  It is both a hilarious and a touching piece of poignant comedy.

12-15 November 2014.

Julia Pascal © 2014.