Propeller describe themselves as "an all-male Shakespeare company which seeks to find a more engaging way of expressing Shakespeare and to more completely explore the relationship between text and performance. Mixing a rigorous approach to the text with a modern physical aesthetic, they have been influenced by mask work, animation and classic and modern film and music from all ages. Productions are directed by Edward Hall, designed by Michael Pavelka with Lighting designed by Ben Ormerod".
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from A Midsummer Night's Dream, as most of my experience of Shakespeare was from somewhat boring English Literature classes at school, a long time ago. However, this production was magical from the very start, with the comedy and magic continuing throughout. The female roles being played by men gave an unusual, if slightly camp, feel to the play, although of course in Shakespeare's time all actors would have been male anyway. Dan Wheeler was superb as Helena, with every careful little gesture and nuance adding to his portrayal of a feisty woman, who had been rejected by her former lover.
Joseph Chance was also outstanding as Puck, as he danced and pranced around the stage, causing mischief and mayhem, in his outfit of ballet tutu, striped tights and sparkly red shoes.
I did feel it deteriorated unnecessarily into farce in places, but the audience loved the show - in fact, there was so much laughter, especially in the Mechanicals' play-within-a-play, that it was difficult to actually hear the actors at times.
As a bonus, the cast wandered around the theatre during the interval, busking while they collected money for charity.
So, if you think Shakespeare is boring, think again and give one of Propeller's shows a try - you might just be surprised.
Review by Lisa Sibbald