Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Northern Stage, Newcastle
Northern Stage has been transformed into Shakespeare's Globe to bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream to a modern audience
Hilarious from start to finish, we’re still trying to get our heads around this new take on Shakespeare’s comedy play, which is packed full of Northern attitude. You must turn up early for this show – we can’t tell you why (we’ve been sworn to secrecy) – you just must.
An octagonal stage with clever trapdoors and various entry points is the centrepiece of the performance, and the simplistic stage set-up (well, something had to be simple) is complete with two candelabras hanging from the ceiling on either side of a large ring which changes colour with the mood and music.
The first ever collaboration between A Shakespeare Northern Playhouse, Northern Stage and Not Too Tame, we were promised this show is not just to be watched, but experienced. So when we were asked to learn some dance moves, we were eager to get involved (that came back to haunt us after the interval and a glass of wine).
Like we said, it’s Shakespeare but not as you know it… Chaos, calamity, very Northern comedy, fabulous costumes, plots within plots, a half-eaten pizza and an iPad (which adds some modern tunes to proceedings later on), over acting, under-acting, actors coming from all corners of the room, actors playing more than one role, actors becoming a part of the audience, the voice of BAFTA-nominated actor David Morrissey as Oberon and a donkey (but not as we expected) – there was so much going on.
Liverpudlian, Glaswegian and Geordie accents combined seamlessly with the integration of sign language to accommodate for deaf actor William Grint who plays Lysander (more of this in theatres please). But our highlight was Mercury nominated, Whitburn-born singer-songwriter Nadine Shah making her theatre debut as Titania – what a voice!
Despite a longer than expected interval, the show went on (as the saying goes) and the performance just got stranger and stranger but continued to keep us laughing. When the candles’ flames were blown out and the show came to its end, we wondered whether we’d too just woken from a dream – a very crazy dream. It’s certainly a show we won’t be forgetting anytime soon, for all the right reasons.
Not Too Tame’s take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream is controlled comedic chaos. If you think Shakespeare isn’t for you, think again.