Midsummer Night's Madness

You have to go to extreme lengths to make a version of A Midsummer Night's Dream stand out. It is one of the most frequently performed of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, so the competition is immense. But here, the Hackney-Harlem Theatre Company has achieved something quite simply phenomenal, and that will stay in my mind for a very long time indeed. It is hard to put into words the energy, passion and talent that pours from every nuance of the show. You must go and see the performance for over an hour of solid entertainment that will reveal much about Shakespeare’s comedy, and even more about the beautiful creativity of our own society. You will skip out, buoyed up by the infectious charisma of the show, knowing that a new bench mark has been set for how you watch Shakespeare. At the start fairies of the forest - the Invisibles - scream bitter words across the room like 'un-teachable'; words which are frequently and inconsiderately applied to the jilted generations. This show exposes the fantastic talent and art that is being created under our very noses, but we are so quick to ignore. Different styles of hip-hop and dancing are blended with the immeasurable charisma of every cast member. The moments of ceaseless comedy were not only genuine but also revealed all the comic moments that Shakespeare intended, now made infinitely more accessible. Do not shiver at the sound of 'modernising Shakespeare', this is not replacing the costumes with leather jackets. This is a display of what is vibrant and wonderful in our culture, celebrating the genius that is clearly there. Shakespearian characters have been given new contexts with great insight, such as Nicholas Bottom; the migrant traffic warden (whose name nobody can pronounce); the blinged up Oberon to the peppy Puck. The cast make these characters their own, injecting every ounce of their ability and personality to express hidden wonders in the script. The performance is perfectly intertwined with the words of Shakespeare, meaning there is no sense of slapping new ideas on top of the script. Instead it writes new poetry with contemporary abilities.An extravaganza of energy, comedy, talent and of course, a great play.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

Rain

★★★★★

The Forum

★★★

Fire and the Rose

★★★★

The Blurb

Hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Dream,' performed by talented young actor-musicians. Blighted young love, bling, vibrant music, explosive dance, drama and comedy. Direct from Hackney and Harlem, New York. Directed by Susie McKenna. Fusion theatre at its best. www.hackneyharlem.com