“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Adapting one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies for a contemporary audience might be one of the most challenging tasks a director can be faced with in his or her career. Nevertheless, in the right hands, a 400 years old play can shine in a new light – thank goodness for fairy lights and an eletrical revolution.
Mark Borchert decided against rewriting dialogues or “modernising” the play’s language but instead let the picture and setting (and some additional bits and pieces in the script) work their wonders. So Mr. Cobweb (Ryan David Stark) wears a Slipknot shirt and hides behind his lucious hair, Theseus (Grae Minors) likes shiny red sparkling suits, people take a sniff of whatever white powder they can find, selfies are being taken, duck faces perfected, zero f**** given by the noblemen and women of Athens. Oh and people are singing. Can one go as far as saying, this version might be even more entertaining than the original? Since this review is an opinion piece the answer is: Hell, yeah!
Shakespeare’s gift for finding such timeless words and smooth, quotable lines was perfectly embedded into a mixture of classic theatre, musical and fashion show.
From the opening scene in Athens, where first sorrows were sowed, to the fairy woods full of confusion and despair, to a wedding topped off by one of the funniest scenes I have seen on this stage, the UPs manifested their reputation as a group of ridiculously talented people.
From Puck (Edward Harkess) to Hippolyta (Jocasta Godlieb) or Nick Bottom (Simon Deggin), every actor and actress seemed to be a perfect fit for his or her (double) role and the closeness on stage and positive energy within the group seemed to be genuine and could be perceived easily.
Love makes us selfish, makes us idle, makes us hyperaware of all the things lacking us in appearance or character, makes us think we are not good enough – at least not for, not in the desired’s eyes. Helena (Margaret Metzler), the lonely lover, illustrates this idea of self-torture and yet cannot seem to let go of the one that causes all her pain. She is trapped in that vicious cycle of false hope and hopeless determination. The more her desired fights off her love, the more she showers him with her affection. And yet although she feels that her bewitched lover, Demetrius (Steven Montero) – a moment ago still in love with Hermia (Clara Kasten) who on the other hand is in love with Lysander (Maximilian Arnhold) -, seems only too fond of her all of the sudden, Helena stays with him. Because as long as we are loved we do not ask why we are being loved. As long as the course runs smooth we are not questioning its underlying navigation system.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Love blinds us. Yet it only takes a drop of magic liquid (or, perhaps more accurately, poison) to clear the blind’s sight and show us who’s been in front of us all the time. The UPs stayed true to Shakespeare’s play and portrayed his idea of love as being a product of some old, magical dude’s flowers. What is love anyway? If you can change the course of true lovers – such as Hermia and Lysander are portrayed as – by dropping some flowery water on Lysander’s eyes and, puff, he cannot remember ever loving her, it probably tells us more about Shakespeare’s belief in the concept of true love than the fact that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a happy ending for everyone.
The UPs created a witty, fun and artistically demanding version of Shakespeare’s classic comedy by sticking close to one of the playwright’s best strategies: making fun of us tainted human beings and our romantic, fantastic beliefs. Love is too often portrayed as a serious business, unlike the UPs’ rendition that proves that even 400 years later Shakespeare’s still right: Love is crazy, love is wild…love is what we see when we close our eyes and see with our hearts.
Do not despair though! There are a couple of dates left on which you could attend this phenomenal play! Go and experience this marvellous rendition and see for yourself that the UPs once again managed to blow minds away by taking a master piece and breathing new life and soul into its dusty covers.
28. | 31. January 2016
1. | 3. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8. | 9. February 2016
7.30 pm @ Audimax, Von-Melle-Park 4
Maria was listening to the Mostly Strings YouTube channel playlist while writing this review.