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This collaboration between the RSC and Garsington Opera provides a rare opportunity to see Shakespeare’s play accompanied by the music Mendelssohn wrote for a production of it more than 200 years later, and it’s delightful.

It’s an abridged version of the play but loses none of its magic (though it might be sacrilegious to Shakespeareans, the brevity might even be a bonus!). The music is a perfect accompaniment, with different motifs and sounds for different settings, including of course the wedding march composed for the weddings of the lovers but heard at just about every wedding since. The performance happens in front of, at the sides and behind the orchestra with Puck (an excellent Oliver Johnstone) brilliantly emerging from their ranks in tails. It’s costumed and there are a few props, but there is no set as such.

The lovers scenes are particularly energetic and athletic (with Lysander and Demetrius, under spells, sniffing Helena’s high heels a particularly inventive twist) and the rude mechanicals are a hoot, with Forbes Masson and Chris Lew Kum Hoi a terrific comedy double-act as Bottom / Pyramus & Flute / Thisbe and the lion’s mane made from brush heads. It’s tough to make the fairy world magical in this type of staging, but I liked the women’s chorus with head torches and again the performances had great energy.

A unique merging of theatre and music and a rare opportunity that should not be missed in this very short run at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

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