A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tue 21st – Sun 26th February 2012

reviews

Divya R

at 00:06 on 22nd Feb 2012

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one to watch this term. The costumes, set, lighting, and sound combined to create a modern take on Shakespeare’s most-loved comedy.

The director made an interesting choice to emphasize the physicality of the show, with mixed results. The fairies tended to roll over each other when they moved, making their motions haunting and lending an eerie quality to the fairies that many other showings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream lack. The physical grabbing and pushing lent a sense of urgency to Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius’ argument in the forest. And the physical fighting between Demetrius and Lysander added a comic effect; their slap-fight had the entire audience laughing. And the dance at the end of the forest scenes was beautifully haunting. The characters all swayed and bent languidly like puppets in a choreographed number that fully expressed the magic of Shakespeare’s work. Though I overall really enjoyed this focus oh physicality, I found it distracting in a couple scenes. I found Puck and Oberon’s constant groping of each other a little overly homoerotic and thought it distracted from the other characters. The same goes for the fairies’ habit of posing and then moving each other’s limbs. While it looked lovely, it made it difficult to pay attention to Titania and Oberon’s dialogue.

The show took place in the shadows of a twenty-foot tree that they somehow got onstage. The scenery pulled the show together, with industrial scaffolding leading up into the bough of the tree, providing a place for fairies to perch and watch the human folly and mayhem ensue below them. While the lighting was movable and versatile, highlighting the modernity and industrial-chic set of the play, it could be harshly bright at times.

The acting was amazing. Every character committed fully to his or her role, and it was obvious that all the actors were incredibly comfortably with each other. Helena (Ellie Nunn) in particular had a great performance. And the costumes were perfect, funky and modern but perfectly exemplifying each character. I particularly liked Titania’s red bell-bottoms, which went well with her drug-induced hypersexuality.

The director’s choice to use a boombox was particularly inspired. This lent another modern feel to the play, and the music was impeccably chosen, especially the manic song that preceded Puck’s speech. And the band deserved credit. This quartet consisting of a trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and accordion was very well-rehearsed and cohesive, and I especially liked the scenes in which they were onstage, playing to the actors.

The play was extremely funny, partially due to the physicality and partially due to the hilarious play-within-a-play at the end. The Mechanical’s production of “Pyramus and Thisbe” was hilarious, complete with a cross-dressing Thisbe. I could see the audience squirm whenever they got a little upskirt action from Thisbe’s short sequined dress. But Pyramus absolutely stole the show with his gut-wrenching suicide scene (I mean this literally because he mime-wrenched his guts out). His commitment and gusto were a pleasure to watch. While the production was a bit long (for which I blame Shakespeare, not those involved in this play), it was never boring. Overall, the entire piece was a hilarious, entertaining production.

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