Camden’s The Donkey Show: A ‘sexy’ club night version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Donkey Show

The Donkey Show - Credit: Archant

Part club night, part immersive theatre, The Donkey Show takes place - aptly - in Stables Market this summer and is billed as a “sexy psychedelic” version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Created by husband and wife team, Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner – producers of Punchdrunk’s hit show Sleep No More - this event that puts the audience at the heart of a disco party has been a cult hit in New York for seven years.

It features 70s disco classics I Will Survive, Carwash, We Are Family, Don’t Leave Me This Way, and You Sexy Thing as well as hoop artists, fire breathers, trapeze and Chinese pole dancers, and drag queens.

Director Ryan McBryde says the musical transplants the story of fairies and lovers from the woods outside Athens to New York’s Studio 54.

And in the 400th anniversary of The Bard’s death it upends Shakespearean tradition by casting female performers in male roles including comedian Vikki Stone as Oberon.

“It’s ultimately a love story,” says McBryde.

“It’s about infatuation, falling in and out of love when you’re young. Just like Puck’s love potion, nightclubs are no strangers to illegal narcotics so you’ve got that element too.

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“There’s all sorts of love going on; infatuation, unrequited love, lust, homosexual love and a little bit of bestiality with the donkey. You name it I think we’ve got it covered.”

Titania flirts her way through the audience to make club owner Oberon jealous, the fairies act as the club’s bus boys going through the audience and making sure everyone is having a good time as the young lovers wander among the crowds pursuing each other.

“It is a crazy show and when it was first pitched to me I was like ‘wow I’ve never seen anything

like this, I’ve never done anything like this.’ I’ve done lots of musicals but nothing like this. It’s disco meets Shakespeare meets burlesque meets circus.” adds McBryde.

The creators used to run The Box nightclub and were involved in theatre at the same time so wanted to put the two together.

“When you look at the original Studio 54 you have characters like Bianca Jagger riding through the studio on a white stallion and these guys doing trapeze on the ceiling.

“It was like a fantasia and it’s exactly like that in the woods, anything could happen.”

Dressing up is encouraged among audiences as is dancing and singing along.

“We’ve got these platforms where the action takes place and the audience are in the club so it’s as if they’re on a night out, dancing along, having a bit of sing along as well. It’s fully immersive.”

“Come down for a raunchy night it’s a bucking bronco of a show.”

The Donkey Show runs at Proud Camden in Stables Market from 9 June to 21 August.