The Inns of Court are ornaments of London that appear infrequently, if at all, in tourist guides, for they are working environments in which one sees barristers and clerks scuttling to and fro in scenes little changed since Dickens cast his jaundiced eye over Jarndyce v Jarndyce. Antic Disposition's A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed in the spectacular Middle Temple Hall, home to the first known production of Twelfth Night set in the gardens of one of the four Inns holding exclusive rights to call men and women to The Bar. The walk from gate to seat alone is worth the ticket price.
After plenty of souvenir snaps in the oak-lined rooms off the main hall, the audience take their seats either side of a traverse stage and are greeted by Peter Quince and his band of players, a-joshing and a-japing before the excellent lights dim and Theseus and Hippolyta start their bickering.
If you're feeling a little apprehensive about Shakespeare - perhaps after being force-fed Macbeth or Hamlet at school - A Midsummer Night's Dream is a perfect reintroduction to The Bard's works. There are lovers and fairies, spells and songs, mischief and mayhem and everyone lives happily ever after. It is, as this company know, above all else, great fun!
Having more fun than anyone is Dylan Kennedy, whose Puck dashes back and forth along the length of the hall doing his master's bidding sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Ami Sayers and Joanna Nuttall as Hermia and Helena are splendid throughout, particularly when trading insults after Puck's herbal haplessness. Trumping all the shenanigans in worlds human and fairy, is the closing production of Pyramus and Thisbe in which Nicholas White's Bottom / Pyramus and Christopher Rowland's Flute / Thisbe can't help but corpse, as the medieval hall's rafters ring to the sound of more laughter than I suspect they've ever heard. And all that time between the two Queen Elizabeths' reigns just melts away, as language and venue coalesced to unite humanity in the joy of comedy.
You have until April 14 to catch this unique production - click here for more info.