The Kaos Dream

Norwich Playhouse

Norwich Playhouse

Puck's sideline as a strip-club-frequenting drug pusher may have escaped the notice of anyone who remembers A Midsummer Night's Dream from schooldays.

Whatever next - Lizzie Bennett a glamour model? Long John Silver a benefits cheat?

But then this is the Shakespeare favourite as re-imagined by Kaos, whose radical productions of well-loved classics have established them as one of the country's most exciting theatre companies.

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In a grimy nightclub the thwarted desire of Hermia and Lysander is introduced as a brawl dominated by a baseball bat-wielding Theseus. By the time sliding doors reveal Hermia pole-dancing to the sultry strains of a jazz band (all actors double-up as instrumen-talists), it is clear that the plot's darker elements are to be emphasised and given an X-rated makeover.

Happily, with the arguable exception of the truly filthy play-within-a-play, this never feels gratuitous. The cast all throw themselves into the production's explosive phy-sicality, and rarely does the saucy presentation obscure the poetry of Shakespeare's lines.

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If staging A Midsummer Night's Dream is an oppor-tunity to let your imagi-nation run wild, director Xavier Leret might perhaps consider a course of cold showers. But with tickets for Saturday's performance still available, those who like their Shakespeare full-bodied would do well to catch this invigorating production.

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