Preview: A Russian take on Shakespeare's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It)
By William Shakespeare  and Dmitry Krymov
Russian with English surtitles
New Zealand Festival, Wellington
Feb 27 and 28, March 1

Commissioned for the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival and produced by Chekhov International Theatre Festival and School of Dramatic Art Theatre (Moscow), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) is a creation from one of the world’s most exciting directors, Dmitry Krymov.

He originally trained as a stage designer and an artist before founding his Moscow-based Laboratory company in 2005. Since then the company has produced a number of inventive productions.

A hit at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival and the recent Shakespeare Festival at Stratford upon Avon, this innovative take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy features 6m high puppets, acrobats, ballerinas, singers, a Jack Russell - and even the audience itself. 

Leaving the main characters of Shakespeare’s play aside, Krymov’s production hones in on the aspect of the play he considers reveals its true essence: the bumbling amateur acting troupe The Mechanicals and their “play within a play” – an hilarious take on the tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisbe.

By excising Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play from its context, Kymov shifts the focus of the drama from a magical comedy of love’s misunderstandings to something humbler and more poignant: a meditation on the fumbling mechanisms by which human hearts reach out to one another in hope and confusion.

With its whirlwind blend of refinement and slapstick (at one moment an exquisite rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, at another, a Rabelaisian visual joke about the hydraulics of lovemaking), Krymov’s Shakespearean fantasy offers a rich, original and entertainingly subversive anatomy of love, politics and the theatre itself.

Krymov’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is “as he likes it” – full of fun and his trademark madcap ingenuity. Described by World Shakespeare Festival director Deborah Shaw as “very clever, very funny and very immediate,” this “off the wall” production is highly visual and physical.

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