REVIEW – The Seussification of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

*****

By Danielle Farrow

In this Red Bonnet production, a young, all-female cast, bring Dr Seuss inspired rhymes to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The script is apt, witty and highly entertaining, and the performances are energetic and amusing.

Set is simply boxes at the back to sit upon, but there is plenty of colour in the costumes and occasional music, and in the way in which players look like Dr Seuss characters, with fanciful hairstyles and make-up. The iambic pentameter line rhythm (five sets of a double beat, where the second beat is emphasised) of Shakespeare is here replaced with what is often a natural rap rhythm, based more on four rather than five, so that there is still clear verse structure and, in addition, the whole script now rhymes, in classic Dr Seuss manner. There are a number of references to changes from Shakespeare to Seuss (mostly denying them!) and all of these are accessible and fun.

The performers throw themselves into the piece and, though they are not up to expressing lightning changes of thought in a fully connected way, their physicality and the sheer enjoyment they have with the hilarity that ensues as various lovers, fairies and amateur actors collide, are infectious and they achieve a fine comic production. There are times when cues are not picked up well, and lines are delivered distinctly but with little connection, but the action is clear, driven along at a fast rate, and highly condensed – in more ways than one! (You’ll have to see it to understand what is meant by that.)

Further ‘Seussification’ includes changes to mentioned plants and animals, and even weaponry, and playing with Bottom’s transformation in a way that is funny in a basic, farcical manner but also allows for some wit in the language. There are many comic touches that are truly delightful, and the whole show grabs and keeps attention throughout.

Narration helps to tell the tale and includes most of the self-references, but for the most part it is comic action throughout, rooted in well-written language of Dr Seuss kind, pertinent, amusing and quite often surprising.

The Seussification of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is slickly directed, performed with verve and a very funny family piece.

1-9 August, 11:00 (11:45) @ theSpace on North Bridge

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