“Many critics sigh at the prospect of yet another ‘Dream’, Shakespeare’s most accessible and most performed play,” said Fiona Mountford in The i Paper. Yet for me the play – a “joyful skip through the Athenian forest, packed as it is with errant lovers, mischievous fairies and some joyously bad amateur dramatics” – is usually a delight. And so it proves with Elle While’s “assured” new staging at the Globe, which is “easily the best Shakespeare offering I have seen at this venue in some years”. The largely female cast includes Globe artistic director Michelle Terry as an “exceedingly Puck-ish Puck”, and Mariah Gale as weaver Nicola Bottom (or “Bot-tome”, as this Bottom insists, with her “delusions of actorly grandeur”). Accessible, witty and meaningful, “this is exactly what the Globe should be doing”. 

It’s a very funny production, but there’s an “uneasy edge to the gleeful comedy” – which is just as it should be, said Nick Curtis in the Evening Standard. For me, the standout performance comes from Francesca Mills as Hermia. This “vibrant comic actress” has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, which puts the many “height-related slurs hurled at Hermia, and her rough treatment by the men, in a disturbing new light”. Mills “absolutely makes the part her own”. Overall, the production bowls along at a pleasing pace. And it’s accompanied by a “quite wonderful” five-piece band playing compositions by James Maloney that help evoke “latent menace and a sense of dislocation from reality”. 

I would have liked a bit more of that menace and dislocation, said Kate Wyver in The Guardian. Terry gives us a rather unnerving Puck – she looks in her costume like a “creature dragged up from deep beneath the forest floor” – and she comes closest to striking the right balance between glittering humour and “the dark undertones of abused power”. But a bit too often, the comedy in this familiar play “tips over into genial jokes and easy laughter”. It’s a solid and interesting production, rather than a brilliant one, agreed Andrzej Lukowski on Time Out. “It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does have a jolly old time spinning it.”

Shakespeare’s Globe, London SE1 (020-7401 9919; shakespearesglobe.com). Until 12 August. Rating ****