Watching Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the magical setting of Dublin Castle on a warm summer’s evening – what’s not to like, asks David Mullane?
One of the bard’s most popular comedies, the play tells the story of a set of unburdened nobles, a troupe of amateur actors and a mischievous gathering of fairies in the woods outside Athens, who all find themselves mixed up in plots of love potions, mistaken identity, weddings and transmogrification.
To add something new to proceedings, Mouth on Fire have given their production a ’70s twist, garbing their performers in bell-bottoms, platform shoes, skintight Glam Rock leotards, polyester tartans and loud, large-collared shirts. Some recognisable hits from the decade are also piped in on occasion as incidental music.
These nods to the past are playful and do marry well with the loose themes of the play, but for the most part are just token gestures. The costumes are, when viewed from the front rows, rather crudely made and the music recalls a cheesy Irish wedding disco rather than a heaving, sweaty night from 40 years ago.
The play requires of an actor a good sense of comic timing and an extravagance of expression. Sadly, most of this company’s ‘rude Mechanicals’ are not as convincing as they could be, although Hermia and Nick Bottom are both well played and wring the most deserving of laughs from the audience.
Despite these limitations, Shakespeare’s wit and fine writing cannot be dampened and the fairies’ magic spells have effect, not just on the onstage mortals but on those in the audience too.
It’s not often in Ireland that we have the opportunity to sit out on a pleasant evening in summer and enjoy some Shakespeare in a handsome setting. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a bit of fun, argued to have been originally written for an aristocratic celebration, and doesn’t require much theatrical criticism. For the novelty factor alone, Mouth on Fire’s production is well worth the €6 ticket price.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at Dublin Castle until August 8, get tickets here.
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