There are those of us whose parents started bringing us to the Dream in High Park when we were six, who have probably seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream a half dozen times, studied it in school on a regular basis since grade five, and can probably recite Helena’s “O, spite! O, Hell!” monologue from memory. We will not have any trouble understanding the RSC’s production of Dream currently playing at Luminato. But for those of you who haven’t brushed up on your Shakespeare, you might find the production a bit of a challenge—unless you’re fluent in Tamil, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and Sanskrit, that is. The multilingual production is a real treat for the initiated, but with only about fifty percent of the text spoken in the original English it’s hard to know how easy it will be for the layfolk to understand.
So, let’s say you are more than familiar with the story about Athenian lovers, mischievous fairies, and the best community theatre troupe of all time. If so, then this show has a lot to offer. The performances in the show are terrific across the board. Each member of the cast is bursting with energy, power, and humour, particularly Archana Ramaswarmy, whose Titania is an absolute force of nature (and certainly a fairy of no common rate). Tim Supple’s direction is bold, yet accessible. Music and dance are as seamlessly coordinated into the production as the dramatic fight and chase scenes. The set is gorgeous and Sumant Jayakrishnan’s design is thrilling and inventive. When else are you going to get to see Titania go to sleep by cocooning in the mid-air or Puck wind the quarreling lovers up in a spider’s web? Plus, if you ever do get lost in a moment of Malayalam baby mama drama, you can just pretend you’re watching one of those amazing, confusing Indian movies they show on Citytv on Saturday mornings sometimes, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at the Canon until June 15.