A sexy dream is no fun for Game of Thrones star: PATRICK MARMION reviews A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bridge Theatre, London)
After her exertions in Game Of Thrones, in which she played the warrior Brienne of Tarth, Gwendoline Christie gets a comparatively easy ride in Sir Nicholas Hytner’s saucy production of William Shakespeare’s summer comedy.
Gwendoline Christie gets an easy ride in a Midsummer Night’s Dream
She’s still a daunting sight: A 6ft 3½in Amazon who, in her flowing grass green dress and with her blonde hair plaited into a sort of scabbard, might make Boadicea herself tremble.
But the surprise is that the best bits of her part as the Fairy Queen have been handed over to her dictatorial husband Theseus, who runs Ancient Athens.
Rearranging the Bard’s story, it’s he who’s made to fall in love with a donkey when he reappears as Fairy King Oberon for the high jinks in the forest.
Christie gets more power… but less fun; reduced to a supernatural Head Girl who can only watch, and act through mischief wrought by her naughty messenger Puck.
David Moorst turns Puck into a gorgeously surly rent boy covered in cheap tattoos and wearing the tatty chic of a non-league footballer.
He sees to it that Oliver Chris’s Oberon wakes up to fall in love with Hammed Animashaun’s lowly weaver Bottom after he’s been turned into a braying donkey.
Normally that pleasure would be Christie’s. But here it’s Chris who gets to stroke the long hairy ears, and even take a bubble bath with Bottom in Bunny Christie’s joyous design that turns the show into a mini rock festival. Half the audience are in the pit alongside actors who cavort on hydraulic platforms bearing beds that are also hoisted aloft alongside the trapeze where Christie’s team of fairy acrobats raunchily twist and turn.
Between the gender-bending antics and the pumping music (including tunes from Beyonce), Shakespeare’s fantasy takes flight in sassy modern idioms.
Our four young lovers who’ve eloped to the forest also get to enjoy a little same sex love – though this is merely a passing whim.
Instead, Animashaun’s Bottom is the real crowd pleaser in a wonderfully effervescent evening. He’s a delightful mix of Lenny Henry and Forest Whitaker, bubbling over with Frank Bruno chuckles.
The beginning of the Dream is always artificially austere; and multiple endings never seem to want to let you go. But this is about as much Shakespearean fun as you can have with your clothes on. Just not so much for Christie.
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