Is it too soon to reprise “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the 2013 Shakespeare Festival? It’s been seven years since The Old Globe produced a well-received version. Director Ian Talbot stages the legendary comedy with precise vision, that even those who’ve seen other interpretations, at the same theater, will acknowledge the unique creativity on display.
Hermia (Winslow Corbett) is forced to wed Demetrius (Nic Few), but really loves Lysander (Adam Gerber). Hermia and Lysander leave their homes and journey into the woods to marry at his aunt’s. Little do they know, the forest is inhabited by a group of fairies ruled by the menacing king Oberon (Jay Whittaker) and the good-hearted Titania (Krystel Lucas). This leads to many misadventures not only for Hermia and Lysander, but also for Demetrius and Hermia’s best friend, Helena (Ryman Sneed).
Instead of trying to replicate the enchantment of other renditions of the play, Talbot creates his own take, full of physical humor and a whimsical, and occasionally dark tone.
The slapstick can be “Looney Tunes” esque with characters getting into all kinds of trouble without a scratch. There’s even a joke involving Hermia that’s reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff. Mix in William Shakespeare’s witty dialogue and there are plenty of laughs for everyone.
Talbot directs the fairy scenes with fascination and mischievous tension. The eerie lighting design from Alan Burrett, as well as Dan Moses Schreier’s giddy sound design, contributes to the enthralling atmosphere.
While all the roles are well cast, there are two that really dominate whenever they appear. Lucas Hall has the devilish
attitude that is crucial to Oberon’s jester, Puck, but plays him with unexpected raunchiness. This makes him seem less
youthful than other renditions of Puck, though he still incorporates the spirit of a 10-year-old prankster.
Hall does something with Puck that not all performers do, which is give the fairy a clear-story arc. The development is shown when he gets severely frightened in front of Oberon and in his delivery of the famous soliloquy at the end of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Miles Anderson, as Bottom, is hysterically goofy as a narcissistic member of an acting troupe, the “rude mechanicals.” Usually when Puck turns Bottom into an animal, a fake donkey head encompasses his entire face. Here the thespian is dressed to look like a distant cousin of Bugs Bunny.
Full of sidesplitting gags and visual eye candy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is perfect for all ages. It would be great if Talbot returns to The Globe and takes another stab at a show from the Bard.
Tickets and information about “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” can be found at theoldglobe.org
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