WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Young Vic
WHEN: 16/2, runs to 1/4
Q: Who has the toughest job in London’s Theatreland? A: The wardrobe department at the Young Vic working on this production set in a mudbath that would put last year’s Glastonbury Festival to shame.
- Read on for reasons including how the Young Vic’s sets are London’s most imaginative
We must admit that we were initially a little disappointed by the staging of this Shakespeare comedy after we marvelled at the video-infused masterpiece that was director Joe Hill-Gibbins’ last reimagining of the Bard here at the Young Vic in 2015 with Measure For Measure starring Romola Garai.
It’s a staging trick we were familiar with after marvelling at the Young Vic’s production of Yerma last year starring Billie Piper which returns to this venue this summer after selling out its first run.
When Demetrius (Oliver Alvin-Wilson) and Lysander (John Dagleish, who we wanted more from) emerge in white trousers that gradually become more and more caked in mud throughout the two-hour-and-twenty-minute performance (without interval), we hoped someone was stocking up backstage on Persil.
But soon the worsening mudbath made more sense as Helena and Hermia (Anna Madeley and Jemima Rooper respectively, especially good particularly when falling out over the latter’s height) spar; and Titania (the always watchable Anastasia Hille) and hilarious Bottom (Leo Bill, a comedy highlight and the best reason to see this not least when he’s karaokeing MOR classics including Show Me Heaven) get it on.
The story remains familiar to Shakespeare’s original with Demetrius, Lysander, Helena and Hermia entering a wood and falling under a spell. The ‘rude’ Mechanicals’ (including Bill) final play-within-a-play ratchets up the comedy further and this interval-less show never felt as lengthy as its 140 minutes.
This was a first preview of a show which doesn’t have its press night until 23/2. We laughed long and loudly, very much appreciated the imaginative setting but wouldn’t fancy trying to get the stains out of the cast’s wardrobe.