I Dreamed a Midwinter's Midsummer Night's Dream
I can’t think of much better than coming out of frigid ice winds, shucking your otter fur coat, and sitting down next to an adorable grandmother with a tin of butterscotch to view Shakespeare Theatre Company’s (STC) A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I am no theatre expert (though I do insist on spelling it theatRe) but it doesn’t take an advanced degree from Oxford to see that Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck (played by Adam Green) is my ideal life partner. The fabulous Nick Bottom (played by Bruce Dow) will be our butler, and we will live in the forest with all of the sassiest steampunk fairies that renaissance bards can muster.
But back to the play.
Here is what is great about STC: They perform with an energetic style that seems to incorporate a bit of improvisation, and they totally break common Shakespearean stereotypes. The dialogue is sharply delivered in fresh and humorous tones, and for those of us who sometimes struggle with iambic pentameter (#champagneproblems) they also have a tendency to dramatically mime the convoluted parts as they go, so one is less likely to miss out on Shakespeare’s unsurpassable snark. The performances of the leads in A Midsummer Night’s Dream ranged from stern and evocative (Sara Topham and Tim Campbell playing double roles as Titania/Hippolyta and Oberon/Theseus) to weirdly emo and deadpan Lysander (Robert Beitzel) to my campy guilty pleasure, the completely over the top Nick Bottom (Dow). But by far, the most magical and wondrous character of the evening was Adam Green’s Puck. His energetic and mischievous physical comedy, his subtle and yet mesmerizing glances and intonations, and his show-stopping one-liners... Sir, I would like to shake your hand, and I would not be surprised if you shocked me with a buzzing ring when I did so.
But the character of Puck was not the only component of this production.
The stage, sets, and costumes that set the tone for Ethan McSweeny’s production fulfilled their life purpose immaculately: they transported the characters and audience into a realm where it was not only acceptable, but utterly necessary, for a 15th century play about Athenian noble people to look like a bizarre Greek ruin filled with 1940s war heros, shabby Victorian theatre props, disheveled steampunk Cirque du Soleil fairies, glitter, rhinestones, cross dressing, and on more than one occasion, a trampoline.
I was in heaven, and set and costume designers Lee Savage and Jennifer Moeller are the gods to whom I direct my devotion.
Or perhaps, it was merely a somnolent vision, and “man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at STC’s Sidney Harman Hall until January 6th - YOU STILL HAVE TIME.
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