On top of that, there's ample space to show Sumant Jayakrishnan's design to best effect, as well as allowing the actors to display some gravity-defying ropework. No-one could accuse this multilingual ensemble of lacking ambition: Supple pulls off a near conjuring trick as he brings together actors, musicians and dancers, speaking seven different languages, into a coherent whole.
But while applauding the brilliance of the conception and the visual treat served up for us, something doesn’t quite gel. The Roundhouse's acoustics don’t help: when only half the text is in English, it's even more important that every word is understood, but too much disappears into the cavernous reaches of this former railway shed. It's strange because the production had its origins in open-air theatres in India - perhaps a winter night in Camden doesn't have the same exotic allure.
That's not to say that it this is a poor production; far from it. From the fairies bursting through a paper backdrop to Titania wrapping herself in red silk until she's sleeping inside a flower bud, this is a production full of visual delights. There are some wonderful performances too: notably from Joy Fernandes' Bottom who manages to extract laughs without resorting to the over-the-top comic gestures and the frantic mugging that so many British actors feel compelled to do. Indeed, the whole troupe of rude mechanicals is, for me, far more appealing than usual, as there is a touching simplicity about the work.
I also like the Mohican-haired Ajay Kumar, as a lively Puck. And there is a hungry sexuality about Chandan Roy Sanyal's Lysander and Prasanna Mahagamage's Demetrius to make Shanaya Rafaat's Helena and Yuki Ellias' Hermia rather wary.
This is a fascinating production that brings fresh insights into this much-produced play. I'm not sure how many Dream virgins will appreciate it, though; it's definitely a production for people who at least vaguely know the play. Those who do, and go to this, will be amply rewarded.
- Maxwell Cooter