Opening in Stratford in the final throes of winter and touring until the middle of June, when it returns to Shakespeare’s birthplace, this RSC revival of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which helps mark the quatercentenary of his death – is being subtitled “A Play for the Nation”. It might equally be subtitled “Show Us Your Bottom”.

The big, brave idea behind Erica Whyman’s production, set in a war-torn, Blitz-damaged Britain of the Forties, is to have different amateur-dramatic groups perform cheek-by-jowl with the professional ensemble.

The interlopers, 14 companies in total (hailing from as far afield as Cornwall and Glasgow), play “the Mechanicals”: Bottom the Weaver and his fellow ‘hard-handed men” of Athens who present their roughly rehearsed, farcically ramshackle “play within a play” before a sneering yet indulgent court in Act V. Their trained counterparts take on the other roles, although there’s a sprinkling of local children (got up like evacuees) to augment the fairy queen Titania’s retinue.

Source: Telegraph