Reviews are coming in for Shakespeare’s Globe’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Michelle Terry as Puck.
Directed by Elle While, the show stars Sam Crerar (Living Newspaper, Royal Court Theatre) as Lysander, Sarah Finigan (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Globe) as Egeus / Snug, Mariah Gale (Henry VI: Rebellion, Wars of the Roses and Richard III, RSC) as Bottom, Vinnie Heaven (Cuckoo, Soho Theatre) as Demetrius, Jack Laskey (As You Like It, Hamlet, Globe) as Oberon / Theseus, Molly Logan (Once a Catholic, Tricycle; Macbeth, The Taming of The Shrew, Twelfth Night, Globe) as Flute / Fairy, Francesca Mills (Netflix series The Witcher: Blood Origin) as Hermia, Anne Odeke (As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Globe) as Hippolyta, Marianne Oldham (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Chichester Festival Theatre) as Titania, Rebecca Root (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, UK tour) as Quince, Lizzie Schenk (Good) as Fairy, Michelle Terry (King Lear, Globe) as Puck, Isobel Thom (I, Joan, Globe) as Helena, and Tanika Yearwood (Emilia, The Vaudeville Theatre) as Snout / Mustardseed.
Joining Elle While in the creative team for the show are Associate Director Indiana Lown-Collins; Composer James Maloney; Costume Supervisor Sabia Smith; Set Designer Wills; Costume Designer takis; Movement by Glynn Macdonald; Head of Voice Tess Dignan; and Movement Director Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is booking to 12 August 2023 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London.
Read reviews from The Stage, Guardian, Evening Standard and more – with more reviews to follow.
Book tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream reviews
"Fresh production of the Shakespearean summer favourite delivers a magical mix of darkness and moonshine"
"Every summer brings its fair share of Dreams, so productions that feel fresh can seem as rare as fairy dust. This one, directed by Elle While, has a sprinkling of just that transformative magic."
"... it boasts some delicious performances that lend new colours to the familiar in a way that consistently, yet subtly, wrong-foots, provokes and delights."
"Terry swaggers and teases, torments and disrupts, gurgling with relish over each piece of cruel and confounding mischief. It’s the kind of acting that brings out the best in this venue: eye-catching and crowd-pleasing, but crammed with revealing detail."
"Laughter, though, always follows swiftly on the heels of shock or gasp, and it’s all galvanised by a live-wire current of sensual appetite. Not every moment is slick, not every idea properly pursued. But this is potent enchantment, equal parts darkness and moonshine."
"Elle While’s is a fresh take on the forest romp"
"I’ve seen this play a hundred times, so it’s always a delight when a production shows it in new light"
"There’s an uneasy edge to the gleeful comedy of Elle While’s production of Shakespeare’s play. Quite right too. Though often rolled out as a merry romp, this is a story of romantic derangement..."
"The Globe’s habitually flexible attitude to gender in casting adds illuminating new layers to the confusion of the young lovers lost in the forest, where their affections are muddled and redirected. Helena is played by Isobel Thom, who is non-binary and starred in I, Joan here last year."
"... While’s subtly-edited production bowls along. And it’s accompanied by a quite wonderful five-piece band playing compositions"
"Giddy shenanigans with a brilliantly chaotic Puck"
"This bright, bold show tries to balance humour and darkness but tends to land on the silly side of things"
"Michelle Terry’s Puck is an agent of chaos. She slinks and scurries around the stage, revelling in the mess she has made... Her unnerving performance steals every scene, and will be sure to haunt a child or two’s dreams."
"Elle While’s giddy production attempts to tread the line between Shakespeare’s glittering humour and the dark undertones of abused power. While Terry’s unruly Puck gets closest to this uneasy balance, the rest of this woodland comedy largely tips over into genial jokes and easy laughter."
"Streaks of darkness thread through the lovers’ scenes. Most chilling is when Demetrius and Lysander both turn on Hermia, whose demands to explain their bullish remarks draws revelatory meaning from the text"
"There is little cohesion to the chaos. Nothing can match the boldness of Terry’s performance, and the magic can’t quite find its feet with the fairies."
"Superlative folk horror (with a daft trigger warning)"
"The Globe’s fresh take on Shakespeare’s magical comedy is closer to a hallucinatory nightmare than a romantic romp"
"... Elle While’s striking folk-horror take on Shakespeare’s romantic romp is a much darker Dream – closer to a hallucinatory nightmare."
"That malign power is personified by Michelle Terry’s memorably eerie Puck, face covered by a serial-killer mask with tufts of moss... It’s a riveting performance from the Globe’s artistic director, mercurial and otherworldly, from the mocking sing-song delivery to the eccentric, lewd jigs as she mimics these baffling “mortals”."
"There are also laughs in this comedy, nearly all coming from Mariah Gale’s hyper-intense thespian Bottom (or, per her mock-pretentious pronunciation, “Bot-TUME”)."
"There’s also too much shouting, flattening the poetry. But Terry’s diabolical Puck will definitely haunt my dreams."
"The theatre’s best show in ages"
"Accessible, witty and meaningful: this is exactly what the Globe should be doing"
"... Elle White’s assured production, easily the best Shakespeare offering I have seen at this venue in some years."
"It quite simply offers us the pleasure of Globe artistic director, Michelle Terry, as an exceedingly Puck-ish Puck and that fine actress Mariah Gale as weaver Nicola Bottom – or “Bot-tome”, as she insists on pronouncing it with her delusions of actorly grandeur."
"There are a few nervous moments early on when it looks as though White will struggle to reconcile the contrasting realms the play encompasses, but these fears are soon allayed when the action moves to the forest."
"Accessible, witty and meaningful: this is exactly what the Globe should be doing."
"A romp with a glorious Bottom"
"... Elle While’s production turns out to be an inoffensive, if occasionally overcooked romp. If this journey into an enchanted forest grows frantic at times, the interludes with the mechanicals — which can, let’s face it, be a trial in some versions — provide a much-needed change in pace."
"Mariah Gale makes a gloriously pompous Bottom, full of grandiloquent phrases and overripe gestures; even her name comes with a presumptuous, aristocratic twang. Whenever she is on stage, the humour ascends to a more knowing level."
"James Maloney’s music is cheerful and rumbustious, saxophone, trumpet and drums sometimes rustling up Coltrane-ish walls of noise. And even when some of the performances begin to seem a tad monochrome, you can while away the hours by admiring the wildly imaginative mix of costumes — credited to the designer Takis."
"This enjoyable if slightly incoherent ‘Dream’ is lifted by Michelle Terry’s brilliantly original folk horror Puck"
"James Maloney’s demonic live jazz score combined with Globe boss Michelle Terry’s performance as a molten-faced, folk horror Puck provides some truly outlandish moments."
"As a whole, though, Elle While’s production doesn’t hit a coherent groove or take its horror elements much further than Terry’s unsettling Puck. Nonetheless, the evening’s various parts are all very enjoyable, even if they don’t blend seamlessly."
"... it’s hardly by-the-numbers tourist fodder – it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does have a jolly old time spinning it"
"The shadows have become deeper and the questions more piercing in Elle While’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Again, there is humour to enjoy, but unsettling emotions snake through the production just as roots and tendrils wind about the Globe’s pillars in Paul Williams’s design."
"The transmasculine actors Sam Crerar and Vinnie Heaven, as an ardent Lysander and anxious Demetrius, together with non-binary actor Isobel Thom as Helena, bring layers of gender complexity to the lovers, making the stark gender divisions and cruel misogyny that characterise the Athenian law all the more striking."
"It doesn’t quite pull together — you don’t get that giddy sense of losing your bearings that you can have with the Dream or the unsettling uncertainties that accompany the lovers out of the forest — and some of the comedy feels a little strenuous. But there are lovely performances..."
Shakespeare's Globe, London