A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It)
5 stars *****
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
THE SEATS in the stalls are covered with dust-sheets, the stage is bare. Then from the back of the auditorium, with a volley of shouts like a bunch of removal men shifting a piano, Dmitry Krymov’s astonishing 20-strong Moscow company appear, hoisting chunks of a giant tree down through the audience, until it disappears backstage, never to be seen again.
This is the brilliant opening of Krymov’s joyous, anarchic and completely alive and beautiful 90-minute response to Shakespeare’s Dream; and it’s a gesture with a point, in a production that puts the “rude mechanicals” – and their play about lovers Pyramus and Thisbe – at the centre of the action, while a well-off-looking stage audience saunter in and take their onstage seats, flaunting their designer clothes, and displaying their prejudices.
There are acrobatic routines, passionate songs, an adorable performing dog, and two of the strangest and most poignant giant puppets you will ever see, playing the lovers. Beyond all the free-flowing fun and laughter, though, this gentle circus of a show has something vital to say about class; and about the need for theatre itself to live in the love of the common people, rather than treating them as light relief to be laughed at for a few minutes, towards the end of the play.
Until 26 August