Reader’s Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This week’s Reader’s Review comes from Emma O’Neill, a freelance journalist who recently moved to Lincoln from Australia. She checked out the open air performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Lincoln Castle, and ponders the art of communication in modern society.

If Shakespeare had an iPhone and a trigger-happy texting finger would we now quote ‘TBONTO’ instead of ‘To Be or Not to Be? Would Romeo have sent Juliet a quick ‘X’ instead of lofty sonnets? And could the tragedy of their ill-timed meeting have been averted thanks to Google Maps and a charged up Sat-Nav? I started thinking about this last night while watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men at Lincoln Castle.

Listening to the Bard while sitting within the grounds of a castle, which houses Lincoln’s Magna Carta – one of the most important documents in British History – it made me realise just how powerful and timeless the written word can be. Both Lincoln’s Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s plays have been preserved for centuries, their delicate ink -stained pages preserved.

Fast-forward to 2011 and the art of ‘writing things down’ is almost obsolete. Hand-written letters have been replaced with emails, which can easily be lost within a maze of megabytes and downloads – the tragedy of Othello’s demise fades into insipidity compared spam inspired document loss for generation X. Text messages between lovers are now deleted, or lost as they move to a new phone plan. And war declarations are now predicted by Twitterers and captured by Facebook photos instead of written with a ink drenched quill and sealed with blood red wax.

So in light of this, it was incredibly enjoyable to see the passionate Chamberlain’s Men troupe effortlessly transpose every intricate syllable of the bard’s vernacular into a flurry of chaos, hilarity, Fairy Queen magic, and impish mischief upon a Globe stage replica façade. Despite clouds taunting a perfect summer’s evening, the well-rehearsed troupe took to the stage with the energy of puppies let loose in a field – and they didn’t stop playing until harmony was restored in ancient Athens. Even the fact that Hermia’s lines were read from side-of–stage due to an actor’s missing voice didn’t detract from the seamless performance.

At the conclusion of this two-hour treat to rich and deliciously descriptive prose from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I had pangs of guilt about my careless text messages and emails I had sent that resemble a find-a-word. And I realised, while my generation are perfecting the art of using less time to communicate, we are indeed loosing our ability to make communication ‘time-less’.

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Photo: Emma O’Neill