Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Pop-up Globe

The most fun you will ever have sober

Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is briefly resurrected from its 17th Century grave at the Pop-up Globe theatre, and it is a must-see production. I don’t care what your weekend plans are. I don’t care if you’ve got a fancy date or your dog needs a walk or you need a walk or you desperately have to do laundry. As a human being capable of laughter, you owe it to yourself to see this show. Lewd, bawdy, and boisterous, this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the most fun you will ever have sober.

After having visited the actual Globe Theatre in London, I was somewhat skeptical as to how the pop-up version would compare to the real thing. Would it be like eating Coles maple flavoured syrup instead of the good Canadian stuff—tolerable, mellow, and preferable to having nothing at all?

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. What the Pop-up Globe lacked in structural integrity, it more than compensated for in the comedic mastery of its actors.

Buckingham’s Company put on a riveting performance. Carrying on the Elizabethan tradition of men playing women’s roles, the all-male cast indulged the senses in a show complete with extravagant costumes, smoke machines, music, and dancing. Playing the Globe is unlike performing anywhere else for three reasons: first, the actors must find a way to use the two giant columns protruding from the stage to their advantage; second, they should utilise the upper stage and trapdoors in their performance, and third, they need to engage the audience at every level and angle, particularly the side galleries, lest these viewers feel left out of the action. Buckingham’s Company ticked all three of these boxes—they climbed the columns, threw a suitcase off the balcony, jumped out of trapdoors, and grabbed unsuspecting audience members. My senses still haven’t recovered.

As is the case with any modern Shakespeare production, there were slight imperfections. The intermittent drowning out of all sound by planes passing overhead is the most obvious anachronism. However, I was also unconvinced by Bottom being cast as a tradie, and the multiple overdone Trump jokes fell a little flat.

Small bumps aside, this adaptation was brilliant and is sure to leave you in stitches. I loved the use of Maori languages, the creepy pagan goat-people who looked like something out of The Blair Witch Project, and the fake blood that soaked the audience in the final scenes.

Please go and see this show, even if it’s just for Max Loban’s side-splitting performance of Hermia. Just don’t wear white like I did.