A Midsummer Night's Dream
Scotland On Sunday.com 21st October 2001


Jackie McGlone

William Shakespeareís A Midsummer Nightís Dream was published 400 years ago. Yet itís full of sex and drugs - think of the central love triangle and Puckís playful way with mind-altering substances. But is it finally about to get the missing postmodern element - a wild injection of rockíníroll? After all, does Oberon not invite his queen "to rock the ground whereon these sleepers be"?

Former Deacon Blue musician Ricky Ross (above), who is writing the music for the new Glasgow Citizens Theatre production, is playing his cards close to his chest. All he will say is that the music heís composed for Giles Havergalís version has "quite a twist". But rockíníroll it ainít, although he concedes thereís a tradition for turning Shakespeareís plays into rock musicals - Forbidden Planet (The Tempest) and Catch My Soul (Othello).

One of the surprising things about Havergalís contemporary take on the play, says Ross, is the fact that the songs are never sung by anyone you expect to warble them. "For instance, he has the fairy song being sung by the rude mechanicals. Heís cut the play very well and structured it rather differently, so it moves apace."

The Citizensí production has been conceived so that the whole play is a dream, which Ross says he found helpful in creating not only the music but also the accompanying soundscape. "Thereís a dark side to this play, although itís very comic and magical. It has fantastic malevolence, even in the love story. But I do think itís important to convey Shakespeareís compassion, his understanding of the human spirit, so I hope the music complements that."

A former English teacher, Ross is passionate about drama. Until he became a family man - he and his wife, musician and actress Lorraine McIntosh, have two young children - he was a regular at the Citizens, never missing a production. "Theatreís one of the joys of life. If only theyíd start the shows at 9pm - post-bathtime and bedtime - we might get to see more," he sighs. He also wrote the music for Kenny Irelandís sun-drenched very Italian Much Ado About Nothing at Edinburghís Royal Lyceum. "I really love writing for theatre, especially Shakespeare, because, though it may seem an obvious thing to say, you are working with a very, very good writer indeed."

This is a busy time for Ross. Heís just finished mixing the soundtrack for a new TV drama starring Sarah Lancashire. Called Meeting Jesus, itís directed by the Scot, Morag Fullerton. His new album, This is the Life, comes out next year, and Deacon Blue is about to go on the road.

While the rest of us might think that rock stars are pretty cool customers, Ross shyly admits that heís "scared" of actors. "Iím working with someone - Giles Havergal - for whom I have so much admiration and with terrific actors, so Iím just dead chuffed, although I was really petrified on my first day."

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, October 26-November 17