In pursuit of sex;Reviews;Set play

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

Shakespeare in lust", "Midsummer Night play too hot for youngsters" shouted the headlines. The RSC's A Midsum-mer Night's Dream, directed by Michael Boyd, stirred up such responses after teacher Stephen McGaw, accompanying a group of 10 and 11-year-olds from Our Lady of the Assumption primary, Coventry, took them home early complaining that what they had seen was unsuitable for children.

Michael Boyd says: "He has a right to his views. I'm angry though about the way it has spray-painted vandalism on the production so that people are encouraged to see only sex in the show. There is sex in the play: it's clear that when Titania invites Bottom to her bed they are going to be making love. But it's a comedy moment. There's no nudity. He's being a donkey and she's quite a birdy creature. This is complete comic fantasy; it won't corrupt anyone.

"The play is about the differ-ence between infatuation and real love. It provides a safe environment to think about such things - already preoccupations in the primary playground."

Teachers who have booked are invited to come and see the production themselves first. Meanwhile, Rex Gibson gives his verdict.

* Michael Boyd succeeds triumphantly in creating a dream-like atmosphere in the RSC's new Dream. This production intrigues and entertains as it blends psychedelic surrealism with eroticism and cool urban-ity. It opens with Theseus' court in sombre grey under a snowy sky. But, as in dreams, all inhibitions fall away when the action moves to the enchanted wood.

Josette Simon and Nicholas Jones give towering perform-ances as HippolytaTitania and TheseusOberon. Simon exudes sexuality, and her verse speaking is truly sinuous.

Pyramus and Thisbe is genuinely funny and Puck brings the house down when he shovels compost over Lysander.

And a special tribute to Liz Ranken, whose choreography will give teachers a host of ideas for practical classroom work.

Tickets: 01789 295623

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