What's On

Your guide to everything in North East

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Newcastle Theatre Royal

Adventure and imagination arrives at the Theatre Royal Newcastle in the form of Northern Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Northern Ballet's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Northern Ballet's A Midsummer Night's Dream

This slick, humour-filled Northern Ballet adaptation of the famous stage comedy is set in a 1940s world of glamorous train travel and class distinction.

The 20th Century setting lends itself well to Shakespeare’s original Athenian play and director David Nixon offers a fresh interpretation of a piece that has been re-imagined by directors the world over.

The show was created 10 years ago but is revived for the 2013 tour with a cast of world-class dancers.

It opens as the audience take their seats, breaking the Brechtian ‘fourth wall’ with dancers peering out into the auditorium in their roles as a ballet troupe rehearsing.

To Mendelssohn’s score, highly strung lovers try to establish their romantic matches in a prim and proper, albeit grey and sombre world.

The cast are working on a performance of Romeo and Juliet to be taken to Edinburgh and dance spectacularly en-pointe, launched into action by an electric jumping pirouette from ballet master Robin Puck (Kevin Poeung).

The imaginative set gives way to create the flying Scotsman sleeper train, a show-stopping piece of design by Duncan Hayler, and the cast descend into a dream world where Puck’s magic spells criss-cross his dancer’s emotions in an enchanted forest.

The second act becomes a colour-filled riot with leaf-clad fairies in cosmic shades of pink and green dancing under an enormous eye and space rocket.

Amid pockets of farcical sexual gyrating there remains a standard of classical beauty, seen most prominently in the exquisite partner work between Hironao Takahashi’s Theseus and Antoinette Brooks-Daw’s Queen Titania.

Comedy arrives with Pippa Moore’s slapstick Helena who launches herself, and her out-turned feet, vice-like and incessantly onto Demetrius while Bottom clumsily transforms into an awkward, fat-thighed donkey.

Less bombastic than a Matthew Bourne ballet, but with the same hallmarks of adventure and imagination, this A Midsummer Night’s Dream boasts captivating moments of serenity and technical prowess.

Its undoing is the third act which brings all the couples together in a too basic wedding celebration, a mis-placed jitterbug dance and clumsy use of Puck’s closing “If we shadows have offended...” verse. It needn’t have speech in at all.

Kate Proctor

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer