A new touring production of A Midsummer Night's Dream set in a film studio quotes Popeye's "Spinach Song", a snippet of Bellini's "Casta Diva" and The Clovers' "Love Potion No 9".
Shakespeare's 'rude mechanicals' are the film crew, making Where the Wild Thyme Blows, bossed about by a tetchy producer called Robin 'Puck' Goodfellow, while the four lovers double not as fairies in the forest but as cowboys and native Americans on the back lot. Bottom is a soundman and Peter Quince a frustrated screenwriter.
You might not be surprised to learn that the man behind this production (though not its director) is Rupert Goold, responsible for such high concept Shakespearean re-treads as The Tempest raging in the Arctic wastes and Macbeth causing havoc in a Stalinist abattoir (both starring Patrick Stewart), not to mention Enron.
Goold's Headlong, which he formed five years ago, is one of the jewels of regional theatre at the very moment when many of its venues are under threat from both artistic lethargy and the impending Arts Council cuts.
The new Dream, which opened last week at the Nuffield Theatre, is audaciously directed by Natalie Abrahami, joint artistic director of London's tiny Gate Theatre.
'A Midsummer Night's Dream', until 2 April, UK tour (headlongtheatre.co.uk)Reuse content