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by Aimee Brannen
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Weather warnings were in place and it hadn’t stopped raining for a second all day – so the thought of spending the evening in an open air amphitheatre wasn’t filling me with excitement.
But Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre never cancels a show in the run up to the start time – only then will it make a call – so, with true British grit, I headed down in my winter jacket and an umbrella for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The faint hope the skies would clear proved to be wishful thinking – but the show went ahead, only to be cancelled less than an hour into the action.
Given that I was beginning to shiver under my plastic poncho, while my wine glass filled with rain water faster than I could drink it – it was somewhat of a relief.
At the same time, with the promising production in full swing I had just about started to forget about my sodden state, it left me a little disappointed. So was the rest of the audience if their deflated sighs were anything to go by.
And the cast, who had been prancing around in the cold and wet – some of them in very little clothes – like it was nothing, won a rapturous applause.
The play has long been associated with the theatre, now in its 80th season, and returns following a five year absence in a bold and gritty new form.
Forget enchanting forest scenes, mythical Greece and flowing costumes – imagine Shakespeare set in a trailer park-cum-building site with a wardrobe and fist fights Big Fat Gypsy Wedding-style. Helena (Rebecca Oldfield), who totters around in heels and a crop-top, is a particular comedy highlight.
But the traditional, whimsical magic is still there in some form, as the caravans give way to the twinkling lights, flowers and glades of the fairy wood.
It’s just a shame I didn’t get to see it in all its glory – but having had a taste of the production, I’m sure to return.
* A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until September 5.