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Review: Family-friendly theatre fun with Infinite Jest's A Midsummer Night's Dream, JW3

As a gentle and fun introduction to Shakespeare for kids it is excellent

A Midsummer Night's Dream web Infinite JestThere is nothing more infectious than a theatre full of kids giggling at the name 'Nick Bottom' and I'm sure Shakespeare would have approved.

Infinite Jest Theatre Company - which specialises in family-friendly Shakespeare - has condensed A Midsummer Night's Dream down to 60 fun-packed minutes.

Amusing modern references

To tell the tricksy, misaligned love story they mix puppetry and magic with the Bard's original text and some updated modern vernacular, throwing in amusing contemporary references along the way. 

The Cockney, Bob the Builder-style Nick Bottom (Rod Silvers) occasionally does a handy 'translation' of what is going on for younger members of the audience.

Characters are brought to life either by humans or puppets which are beautifully made by Marc
A Midsummer Night's Dream web Infinite JestParrett - or sometimes they are both.

For example, the 'human' Puck might disappear behind the screen backdrop only to reappear as a puppet for some sprite-like acrobatics.

Magic moments

Magic moments are cleverly dotted throughout the play - objects and characters that disappear while others 'mysteriously fly'. There is some particularly good slight of hand and trickery used for the 'love' and 'sleeping' potions.

Young volunteers from the audience help make up the mechanicals for their final performance complete with mini costumes to wear, all that was missing was a final song and dance routine.

The show is aimed at 5+ but some of the younger members of the audience did get fidgety at times and I wonder whether the multiple, overlapping narratives might have got a bit confusing.

A Midsummer Night's Dream web Infinite JestFun introduction

However, as a gentle and fun introduction to Shakespeare for kids it is excellent even if the grown-up me felt a little more sensitive to some of the storylines - such as the Queen of the Amazons being the spoils of war - when surrounded by young and impressionable minds.

This was a solo performance at JW3 but there is another performance scheduled for this Saturday (May 5) at The Pleasance in Islington. In the meantime, Infinite Jest is also taking the show on tour around primary schools.




A Midsummer Night's Dream web  Infinite Jest A Midsummer Night's Dream web  infinite jest