Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the London Coliseum

Benjamin Britten’s bold opera reinterpretation of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM - it’s Shakespeare, but not as we know it…

SHAKESPEARE gets a makeover in Benjamin Britten’s bold interpretation of one of his most whimsical works. If you’re looking for a rustic idyll, forget it.

This is a dark tale of sexual repression and depravity. The Athenian wood of the play is a 1950s Boys School, with Oberon and Tytania as scheming school masters, and the fairies of yore are the pyromaniac pupils.

More nightmare than dream, the buttoned up repression and sexual tension unbuttons itself in the second act, literally in the case of Tytania (Anna Christy) who removes her argyle cardigan when Oberon bewitches her to fall in love with Bottom (Willard White), the school handy man, whilst the boys look on.

Christopher Alden’s production caused both bravos and boos, but there were some cracking performances.

William Towers sang the part of Oberon brilliantly and Iestyn Davies acted it, adding to the surrealism, whilst the quartet of lovers showed they could act as well as they trilled.

The fawning Helena (Kate Valentine) was particularly entertaining as she stalked rugby boy Demetrius (Benedict Nelson). Willard White did not hit a bum note and also took his top off.

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Worth watching but read the synopsis first, this is not Shakespeare as we know it…

* Showing at the London Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, WC2, until Saturday, June 25.