The Donkey Show
Presented in English
Proud Camden, London, UK
June 10-August 21, 2016
A new, London production of the off-Broadway hit The Donkey Show clashed Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with retro disco in this production in which interactive promenade theatre met a late-1970s dance party.
Created by Randy Weiner and Diane Paulus
Directed by Ryan McBryde
Set: Diego Pitarch
Lighting: Ben Cracknell
Sound: Andy Graham
Stage Manager: Simon Sinfield
Production Manager: Lee Batty
Siobhan Athwal, Bronte Barbe, Melissa Bayern, Natalie Chua, Samuel Fogell, James Gillan, Dominique Kinisky, Nyron Levy, Adrian Martel, Harry Morley, Jessica Spalis, Vikki Stone
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The Stage review (4 stars):
"The Donkey Show squeezes A Midsummer Night’s Dream – specifically the ‘magical’ goings-on in the forest – into a pair of flares and lets it loose on a dance floor."
"Amid what seems like a million A Midsummer Night’s Dreams this year, The Donkey Show won’t set the world alight. But it’s not trying to. And no other version will have you shaking your hips. Hot-panted fairies swing from the ceiling as the cast (led by James Gillan’s glam, roller-skating Lady Puck) belt out classics like Don’t Leave Me This Way. It’s slickly done, from Diego Pitarch’s costumes to Lucy Ridley’s smooth choreography across a constantly moving set of blocks. The pace rarely sags, as we’re skilfully moved around the dance floor in time for the next set-piece.
Part drag show, part singalong, it’s doubtful whether you’d have any idea what was going on if you weren’t already familiar with the plot. But this is all about the overblown performances, clever plays on stereotypes and irresistible sense of fun."
Evening Standard review (3 stars):
"If you've ever wanted to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream stripped of its original text and reconceived as a Seventies roller disco-cum-club night, your wait is over. This jolly if simplistic piece, subtitled A Midsummer Night’s Disco, played for seven years in New York and has apparently been seen by more than a million people worldwide. By all means add to that number, but please don’t anticipate profundity. The absolute barest bones — if that — of the original narrative have survived this updating"
"It’s all larksome fun in Ryan McBryde’s jaunty production, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could — should — be so much more. It’s a show that’s far too content to sit back and rest on its very high heels and short shorts. There are too many lulls in the already insubstantial 75-minute running time and a number of audience members simply stood around the bar chatting. Anyone not familiar with the original story of thwarted and desperate lovers washed up in a forest full of surprises would be none the wiser. So who gains from this?"
"Go for a hen party, go after a few drinks, go for a boogie. Just don’t go expecting anything to do with Shakespeare."
WhatsOnStage review (3 stars):
"The Donkey Show purports to be an immersive disco version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. But it's really not that. It's a madcap gig, with one or two moments of acting and a handful of vague echoes of the bard's fairy love story. Mainly it's just a chance to dance like John Travolta while drag queens zoom past on roller skates and bare-chested acrobats twist through hoops and shimmy up shiny poles."
"Basically, if you don't know A Midsummer Night's Dream, you're not going to know it any better after watching this. I have seen the play a fair few times and I had difficulty working out what the hell was going on. But the fun here is not in paying attention to the story. In fact, I'd say that if you came out knowing anything about what actually happens, you've missed the whole point of The Donkey Show. This is about enjoying a bit of '70s glamour: curled hair, sparkling dresses, fake eyelashes and rippling pectoral muscles."
"you'd be an ass to miss this."
TimeOut London review (2 stars):
"Hen do-ish take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
"90 minutes of hard-bodied pole dancers and lukewarm sauciness determined to whip its audience into a frenzy of sequins and sweat."
"It’s too content-light for theatre, too tame for circus, too vanilla for cabaret."