I am always intrigued about what makes people laugh at the theatre. Fantastically funny productions are currently excelling on the London stages, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ and ‘Noises Off’ are just two examples.
The current production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Lyric Hammersmith is anything but conventional. Quirky, alternative and fun, I found it hilarious, as did much of the audience on press night, but my friend didn’t and it made me wonder what makes a show funny. I thought this interpretation had it all: slapstick, chaotic comedy and more subtle, intelligent wit. It is a magical collaboration between Filter theatre company, director Sean Holmes and original members from The London Snorkelling Team band; together they present a wacky reworking Shakespeare’s classic play.
We began the night with funny man Ed Gaughan nervously stepping on stage to announce to us all that the evening, unfortunately would be a waste of time, and we may as well go home. We didn’t of course, instead the audience watched intrigued as the story (and madness) unfolded. Most of the beauty of this production is caused by unexpected jokes and clever innuendo so I don’t feel it is wise to give away too much in this review. The group of musicians and actors tell the basic story breaking for outbursts of original music, and short comic interludes. Pianist, Chris Branch and drummer, Alan Pagan provide most of the musical accompaniment, showing expertise and charisma in one corner of the stage, while having to contend with actors jumping over and around their instruments. The score is rather cheesy but uplifting – we hear love songs, fairy twinkles and all kinds of other enchanting sounds.
The design by Linsbury prizewinner Hyemi Shin is spectacular, seemingly simple but miraculous in its transformation. The action crashes through the walls, floor and ceiling, quite literally, as various parts are made only from brown paper. The male actors reign – Ferdy Roberts who plays Puck, John Lightbody as Lysander and best of all Jonathan Broadbent as Oberon/ Theseus. All three manage to be serious while acting ridiculously silly, and give 100 percent commitment to their roles. The actors seem to revel in the practical jokes that fill the script, the ideas are endless… you are left thinking: ‘why didn’t I think of that?’
All in all it is a marvellous rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream… I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, I fear it really will spoil the delight of seeing this production yourself.
Continues until March 17, book here, now.