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A Midsummer’s Night Gumbo

A Midsummer’s Night Gumbo


Well, that was fun!

Ruby in the Dust Theatre Company certainly made us ‘turn away our eyes to seek new friends and stranger companies’ last night with their stupidly approachable Louisiana steeped revisioning of the bardilicious classic. Here was a hot steaming gumbo of a piece – hell, we even sat in New Orleans’ heat – vraisemblance indeed.

Now, Shakespeare done by Americans is bad enough (yeah – I know they think they can do it but honestly, it’s as uncomfortable as your daughter marrying out) yet English chaps, holding the Bard’s very mother tongue in their heads, shouldn’t be allowed to use that same tongue in brutal and cruel self mockery with sundry perversions of American accentry.

Or so you’d think.

But you’d be wrong.

Your daughter will probably be happy (which anyway deep down is always still gonna be less than you think she deserves) and the play will probably work – which is not what you’d necessarily expect!

Puck is played to magnificent effect by Sid Phoenix. His rich lugubrious voice and fluidity of motion bring something unnerving to his sprite cum voodoo master and Jonathan Ajayi as Lysander is another of those irritatingly talented young people that you just know is destined to achieve more in twenty minutes than this reviewer has in twenty years.


And they’re both black. (Well one is, and one is kinda pretending.) And this is another brilliant touch. Isn’t Lysander, once an outcast, welcomed by a society educated into broadening its church? Yeah baby – there goes that mocking bird. And the Louisiana leitmotif is underlined further by the rustics – more hillbilly than yokel – and their agrarian musicianship.

This is a piece for anyone who doesn’t think they understand Shakespeare. These people were talking in English – yeah Shakespearean, but like in English bro’ – you get me? The fellow sitting beside me – a music teacher from North Finchley – was there as much for the music as the Bard. Nice bits of Dr John and other jazzy stuff, a few good songs from the ensemble and we were back in gumbo city.

But I do have a question. There was a lot of generous talent in evidence; fiddlin’ Lowri Amies, Tristan ‘Sprite’ Pegg, masterful David Monteith, cute Samantha Louise Clark and more. The program lists in excess of 30 participants. Hell, there was probably only enough room for twice as many in the audience. Can someone tell me how the maths works?

Or is that voodoo too?

Sid Phoenix as Puck

Sid Phoenix as Puck

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