My first exposure to Julie Taymor was the Metropolitan Opera production of 'The Magic Flute', which in spectacle is unlike any other production of Mozart's opera ever seen before or since. She is also no stranger to adapting Shakespeare to screen, having also directed 1999's 'Titus' (love it) and 2010's 'The Tempest' (liked it better than most but it's far from perfect). Also watched this because of my love of Shakespeare and of one of his best plays 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.
Taymor's adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' from 2014 to me was an absolute magical triumph. It is not just in my view the best of Taymor's Shakespeare adaptations, even beating 'Titus', it also contains some of the best work she ever did in visuals and direction and is among the best productions of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' available. The most visually stunning, most uniquely staged and most magical there is, cannot recommend it highly enough.
Was not surprised that the production looked fantastic, regardless of the state of everything else Taymor's productions always looked striking and she always delivered on the spectacle. Don't think that there has been any other production of hers that has been this successful at having a world/setting this vividly immersive. Especially in the lighting, blue has not looked this beautiful in a long time, and Titania's "casting a spell on the viewer" costume. The sets are not too complex yet because of the lavish and cinematic-worthy projections and lighting they enchant hugely. Props are creatively used, scene changes and character entrances are seamless (the best ones also very atmospheric) and the photography avoids being overblown excess while never feeling stage-bound.
Really loved Taymor's stage direction. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is centuries old and has been done so many times, one would not think so watching this production. The witty and enchanting spirit that the play has is not just present here but embodied, in some very creative touches and unique visual physical spectacle that was like watching a top form Cirque De Soleil production. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' has never been this physical or jaw-droppingly acrobatic, especially in the transitions and the stage direction for Puck, all without being distracting, overblown or gimmicky.
It, the production that is, treats the play and Shakespeare's writing with intelligence and respect, staying true in spirit to it, while bringing a lot of freshness to the material without being distasteful. The dialogue is still hilarious and touching and while the storytelling is complicated it never falls into incoherence.
Nothing bad can be said about the performances. Kathryn Hunter is a very unique Puck (and not just because it is another highly effective case of a female playing a role usually performed by a male), very enviously physical and not many other Pucks were this riotous. Also a scene stealer is Max Cassella hilariously having a ball as Bottom, he and Jacob Ming-Trent having some of the production's funniest moments. David Harewood is one of the more restrained Oberons while still managing to be a lot of fun, while Tina Benko is alluring and shrewd. The four lovers are also very well cast and mix comic timing and pathos beautifully.
Overall, truly magical. 10/10
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this