Friday, April 27, 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Last night, we saw an absolutely stunning production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Swan Theatre in Stratford. The production was directed by Tim Supple, and was cast entirely with Indian actors, dancers, acrobats, musicians, and street performers. At least half of the dialogue was in either Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Sinhalese, or Sanskrit. Despite the language barrier, the entire production was breathtakingly beautiful, side-splittingly funny, and unexpectedly touching. If anything, the language barrier heightened the effect of being transported to a mythical world of mischievous fairies and strange transformations. The first half ended with an ingenious tour-de-force of creative staging in which Puck caught the four lovers in a web of elastic tape stretched across the stage; the actors' movements through the web were both comic and beautiful. It was absolutely perfect and priceless. And, near the end of the second half, I was surprised to find myself close to tears over the death of Thisbe in the mechanicals' silly play-within-a-play. For a moment, a comically tall, thin Indian man in a blue dress, speaking in Bengali, wrung real emotion out of me. The whole production was a classic example of the magical, transformative power of theater.

You can see a short "trailer," and read more about the production, here.

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