Demetrius Wakes – Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Reviewer: Stephen Bates

Writer and Director: Jack Robertson

Describing itself in publicity as “a most lamentable comedy” and “an unofficial and unwarranted sequel” to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jack Robertson’s 60-minute comedy, Demetrius Wakes, has set itself targets to live down to. While it would be difficult to make an official sequel more than four centuries after William Shakespeare’s demise, the jury is out over whether or not anything could warrant this flimsy extension to his classic and just how lamentable (or not) it is.

Brought to the stage by MediumRare Productions, the play explores how the dreams of two modern day married couples, drawn loosely from the Bard’s originals, turn into nightmares. It touches on the not uncommon dilemma of dealing with what happens when a joyful burst of romance is taken over by the gradual onset of familiarity and boredom.

Zander (or Lysander) is given a laddish swagger by Jacob Lovesick; he is married to Mia (Hernia), played by Megan Jarvie with a hint of sluttiness. They invite to their home for a wine and cheese party Demetrius, once Mia’s admirer, and his wife Helena. Both couples are celebrating 15 years of marriage.

It occurs to Demetrius (a continuously glum Jack J Fairley) that he fell asleep 15 years earlier and his marriage to Georgia Andrews’ dull Helena must have been a terrible dream. Freeze the action and in steps a highly camp Puck (Sam Harlaut, wearing the Devil’s horns and tight-fitting hot pants) to wreak havoc all round.

What follows resembles a swingers’ gathering without the car keys. Trial pairings of Demetrius with Mia, Zander with Helena, Demetrius with Zander and Mia with Helena come and go. Poor old Puck is left out of all the fun as the four release their pent-up frustrations and spit out venom at each other.

The performances in Robertson’s production of his own play are lively, but not sufficiently so to make the quartet that he has created interesting. The writer’s core idea could have had potential, but a sense of where to take it and develop it fully is not evident and the dialogue contains too little original wit to sustain the comedy even for just an hour.

Although far from lamentable, Demetrius Wakes hitches a ride from Shakespeare; its labours to become less tedious than its main characters are eventually lost.

Runs until 13 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

A midsummer nightmare

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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