A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Deafinitely Theatre at Shakespeare's Globe
Deafinitely Theatre had a Globe to Globe hit in 2012 with their Love's Labours Lost.
They were asked back this year, and chose A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Using an eloquent blend of British Sign Language, Visual Vernacular and Shakespeare's verse, it tells the familiar story in an engaging, entertaining couple of hours.
Director Paula Garfield sets the play in the City – not Athens, but London's Square Mile. With Theseus and Hippolyta CEOs of rival banks. There's an ecological fable in there somewhere too.
The “flowery bed” - a constant presence and eventually the stage for Pyramus & Thisbe – is surrounded Emin-style by garbage. Bottom's transformation uses recycled materials, too. The wall is made of box files, the mechanicals are now Middle Management. As so often with the Dream, it's these comic characters who go down best with the audience – Peter Quince would fit in well in The Office, with his self-importance and his iPad, patronisingly signing and mouthing at his actors, including a lovely lanky Flute from Jason Taylor, and a hilarious Bottom from David Sands.
The Lovers are well cast and well characterized too: Fifi Garfield's small dark Hermia against Charlotte Arrowsmith's maypole Helena.
Anna-Maria Nabirye plays a fairy who, along with Alim Jayda's excellent Puck, gives us some of Shakespeare's own words – it is Puck who holds the audience at the end, before the inevitable applause, both signed and audible.
There is music, too, used much as in a silent movie, to underscore the action and add atmosphere, with some witty references in the P&T show. It was composed especially by Philippa Herrick, who is also the musical director.