Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review of Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream at Chicago Shakespeare

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was a shorter version of the original play by William Shakespeare. It was directed and adapted by David H. Bell. It was about four lovers. Lysander (Nate Burger) and Hermia (Tiffany Yvonne Cox) wanted to run away together because they were in love and they couldn't get married because Hermia's father Egeus (Don Forston) wanted her to marry Demetrius (Ryan Hallahan). But Hermia's best friend, Helena (Cristina Panfilio), was in love with Demetrius but Demetrius didn't love her. It is also about two other lovers who are kind of breaking up. They are fairy lovers named Titania (Lanise Antoine Shelley) and Oberon (Eric Parks). The fairies are trying to make all the love perfect and it does work out, but with a few hiccups at the beginning. And it was also about some schoolboys who want to put on a show within the show. And they do put on the show within the show. I think that for the entire play I was laughing. It was hilarious.

When Helena and Hermia get into a fight it is not really the most pretty sight because they were so angry at each other. I think if it was anybody's fault it was the fairies' fault. Helena has gotten two boyfriends instead of the one she wanted. And she doesn't believe they really like her, but then she realizes, these could be very good defense mechanisms. Hermia is fighting because she thinks that Helena has gained Lysander's heart and been all flirty with him. They were calling each other names, like puppet or short. Short I don't think is as insulting as puppet, but that is mostly what started the fight. There was an awesome vine scene where all the fairies (Wesley Daniel, Max Fabian, Michael Finley, and Justin Cornwell) and Puck (Steven Lee Johnson) had vines and would twist them all around and then the lovers had to run through them. I thought that that was really cool and I really liked that choice.

Titania I thought was amazing. I thought that she seemed so involved in everything. I also really loved her costume (by Melissa Torchia). I thought that it looked very fairy-like. It was kind of creepy fairy, but not really creepy fairy. I thought that she seemed very regal, which is something you need for Titania. I thought that she seemed like she was still in love with Oberon, even though she was angry with him. I loved how in the first scene she was in love with Oberon for a few seconds and then she got angry with him, which I think kind of shows what you don't really like about the character of Titania, which is how she still loves Oberon even though he is fighting over something stupid, which he doesn't even need. He already has Puck and a bunch of other fairies. So that means he doesn't need the Changeling Boy to be his henchman because he could find other little boys who might want more to hang out with him. I really liked how the scenic designer (Scott Davis) went simple for Titania's bed instead of like a bunch of flowers. They still made it flowery by putting up umbrellas. Those could be like giant flowers basically.

Bottom (Alex Weisman) and his friends were all, in this version, kids. You could tell that because of how their clothes were, and how they acted, and how they were happy all the time. Peter Quince (Forston) was like a headmaster. When they found out what their parts were, they were all very excited. I thought that the best actor in the play within the play (not the actual play, I think all the actors were great in the play) was Starveling (Cornwell) who was the Man in Moon. I liked how he wasn't too much, as most of the other ones were. I think that if we were in this time period in this place, he would be the one I would want to hire. Everybody else did a great job at pretending to not be good actors. Flute (Daniel) was just very over the top with his woman voice for Thisbe. I thought that was funny in this context. I think that Snout (Fabian) did a great job with his juggling. Snug (Finley) was very snug in his own tiny little personality; he was never like "aw yeah!" He was always like "hm." But when he got onstage he was more like "ROOOOAR!" I thought that that was awesome because I have never seen Snug played that way. Bottom I think was very over the top but in the best way possible He reminded me of how I always thought Bottom would be. I liked how he butted in when they were giving the parts to say, "I can play every single part!" I thought it was hilarious when he was dying as Pyramus because he kept standing up and saying, "Die!" and then dying and then getting back up and saying "Die!" again, and so on.

People who would like this show are people who like a fairy good relationships gone wrong, cool vine sequences, and very long but hilarious death scenes. I really liked the show and it is perfect to take your children to if you want to give them a taste of Shakespeare. I've seen a lot of Midsummer Night's Dreams, and this is one of my favorites!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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