Midsummer Night's Dream, Lyric, Hammersmith, London 



The idiosyncratic and richly intentive Filter Company are one of my favourite theatrical outfits.

They operate in two broad strands at a roughly similar level of inspiration.  In one of them, they devise new plays that work on many narrative and metaphoric levels and that benefit from their creative speciality, which is using artfully deployed sound to sound the depths of a dramatic situation.  Though it featured in none of the end-of-year best play lists, one of the finest works of 2011 was Filter's Silence, a piece that rivalled Complicite's talent for fusing the emotional and the conceptual as it followed two overlapping quests in Britain and Eastern Europe. In the other strand, instanced by their acclaimed productions of Twelfth Night and Three Sisters, they take a classic and pull its corsets off, so to speak, in deliberately rough and indecorous re-mix of the play that at once defamilarises it, making it more accessible to newcomers, and resensitises older hands to its particular virtues.

The topsy-turviness of Illyria was compounded in their excellent Twelfth Night in an atmosphere that crossed carnival with boozy rock gig and the sickness of self-love was given a modern twist by a narcissistic Malvolio who played embarrassing air guitar and gazed in a mirror.  Filter's current Midsummer Night's Dream, once again directed by Sean Holmes, has a lot going for it, too, so I am hard put to put my finger on why I enjoyed it less and found it less revealing than the company's earlier shows.  It can't be, as I initially thought, that Shakespeare gazumps their approach in this play with the raucous slapstick of the misalligned lovers, the farce with the love juice, and the ludicrous comic incompetence of the mechanicals as they perform their "Pyramus and Thisbe" interlude.  Twelfth Night, after all, has built-in anarchy.

The fairy bower is a grotty, tiled bathroom. The love juice is staining blue bath gel squirted on to the eyes; Jonathan Broadbent's endearing, bespectacled Oberon looks like the Milky Bar Kid disguised as Superman; Ferdy Roberts's butch, stroppy Puck bursts through an upstage wall.  I'm not allowed to say who portrays Bottom but think back to the Morecambe and Wise meta-show The Play What I Wrote.  Uncharacteristically, the show feels pleased with itself out of proportion to its comic discoveries. There's a spectacular food-fight which puts the humble orange Sainsbury's bag in a new light.  An anxious Irish Quince tells us at the start that in one hour and 42 minutes "You'll be wishing you'd gone to see One Man, Two Guvnors."  They must be very confident that no one will call their bluff.

To March 17

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas