The Donkey Show: A Midsummer Night’s Disco, review: ‘If you’re after excess, don a wig and some glitter’

Vikki Stone (Oberon Mia) in The Donkey Show at Proud Camden. Picture: Jane Hobson

Vikki Stone (Oberon Mia) in The Donkey Show at Proud Camden. Picture: Jane Hobson - Credit: � Jane Hobson

With Emma Rice’s gloriously visual A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing across town at Shakespeare’s Globe, Camden’s Proud Gallery have pitched in with their own extravaganza - The Donkey Show: A Midsummer Night’s Disco.

With barely a line of Shakespeare included, this is less theatre and more a hedonistic immersive spectacle – a feel-good fix of go-go dancers, trapeze, and drag queens.

Created by Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner who produced Punchdrunk’s hit show Sleep No more, the show transplants the story of Shakespeare’s fairies and thwarted love from the woods outside Athens to New York’s Studio 54.

Female ushers mocked up as bearded 1970s macho doormen guide punters into Club Oberon.

Visual detail is intoxicating with the club decked to the rafters with spangles and endless disco balls and there are some irresistible performances: drag queen James Gillan as Lady Puck is glorious and Siobhan Athwal as Dmitri does some superb pastiche dance moves.

Anyone who wants to groove to favourite disco classics including I Will Survive and Don’t Leave Me This Way will find the all-embracing interaction between cast and audience – who stand, or dance throughout – a liberation.

But the spectacle is not as anarchic as it wants to be with a predictable play on drugs being injected via a comically gigantic syringe into Titania and a hyped up show of club-sex with the pretend donkey - which is steered on, then off, in a vague way.

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There’s also the necessary but sobering spectre of health and safety as staff make sure audience members aren’t booted in the face during the trapeze moments.

The tragi-comedy of the runaround lovers is palpable but magic is only accessed via excess.

Still, if it’s excess you are after, don a wig and some glitter and you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 3/5 stars