I think that William Shakespeare would have approved…… Theatre for the masses, written at a time of plague and performed in the open air. In this case at ‘Homeground,’ (essentially a car park surrounded by shipping containers) where once stood Gaythorn Gas Works and where the underground River Tib enters the Medlock within earshot of the Mancunian Way.
The Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre’s very modern production of Midsummer Night’s Dream was being performed during our own plague times and in the open; no doubt approved by Chris Whitty and his scientist cohorts, with tables spaced for social distancing limited to six of your bubble and an app to order food and drink.
The Phoenix Nights compère style opening with references to Prince Philip’s funeral and Boris’ plans for the £200m new royal yacht, helped break the ice for many of the audience for whom this was the first time out in half normality and introducing ‘a member of the audience’ to take part helped us to feel part of the action was with us.
Frenetic scenes ensued and included a lateral flow test as the play switched from Ancient Greece to 21st century Manchester including all the fabulous culture and accents of the people that make up our amazing city “Me thought I was enamoured of an Ass”.
A Coronation Street superstar (identity sworn to secrecy) stuck between two floors in a lift, brilliant impromptu rehearsal scenes, a Michael Jackson interlude and a rock band sound you wanted to head bang to.
This was like a brilliant Am Dram version of one of Shakespeare’s best known plays.
It goes without saying that when you go to the theatre the audience often partly feed off the reactions of the people sat near to them and the cast also feed off the reaction of the audience. Hats off to the brilliant cast for being able to manufacture the ‘closeness’ of the audience as it can’t have been easy in such a socially distanced arena.
A great re-introduction to life partially post plague!!