Bridge theatre, London
Festive fun, ear-nibbling and high-wire antics infuse Nicholas Hytner’s startling role-reversal production
A promenade Julius Caesar was one of the Bridge’s biggest hits in its first year. Nicholas Hytner now seeks to repeat the process with an immersive Dream that has half the audience standing and that looks both to the past and the future. Its spectacular use of aerial acrobatics evokes memories of Peter Brook’s legendary 1970 production, while its reassignment of much of the text is in line with our faith in s****l liberation. I loved the fiesta-like atmosphere while questioning the textual transpositions.
The evening begins with the prolonged imprisonment of Hippolyta – played by Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame – in a glass cage. She is clearly the captive bride of Oliver Chris’s autocratic Theseus: the evening’s most moving moment is the look of wounded complicity Christie shares with Isis Hainsworth’s similarly threatened Hermia. As is common, Hippolyta and Theseus then mutate into the fairy queen and king, but Titania speaks lines normally assigned to Oberon while Oberon speaks hers. It is a startling reversal that has loss as well as gain.