A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare, directed by Tim Supple (Dash Arts/Luminato). At the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). To June 15. $50-$70. 416-872-1111. Rating: NNN
Jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics, an atmospheric live band and a refreshingly diverse cast make this unique East-West fusion of the Bard’s comedy a fascinating and highly theatrical experience – for the most part.
The show, at hit in India and London, gets off to a rocky start, particularly with the young Athenians. The performers’ English isn’t the easiest to comprehend, and it’s a shame there aren’t surtitles to help clarify the English, the Hindi, Bengali and half-dozen other languages you’ll hear.
But once Tim Supple’s theatrics begin in earnest – in the forest scenes - you realize this production isn’t about the text. It’s about the story and the spectacle. This is a thrillingly physical show with a forest that really does seem enchanted. Performers hang by their feet on ropes, fight with wooden poles as if they’re warriors or cradle themselves in an enormous hammock. At one point characters try to navigate their way out of a web.
The actors range from merely adequate (the Athenians again) to hugely charismatic (the mischievous spark of Ajay Kumar’s mohawk-sporting, handlebar mustachioed Puck will be difficult to forget). The costumes are worth mentioning. One simple scene in which fairies Oberon and Titania (P R Jijoy and Archana Ramaswamy) transform into Theseus and Hippolyta is breathtaking. The way in which Bottom (the energetic Joy Fernandes) becomes an ass is witty and down-to-earth.
When it works it’s amazing, when it doesn’t it feels a bit flat. You’ll never see a Dream like this again. But as I said to my friend, “Too bad you keep waking up throughout it.”