Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The course of true love never did run smooth... especially when fairies are casting spells and fathers are threatening marriage or death. So it goes in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the latest production of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. A convoluted story with a love quadrangle and a play within the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream demands your entire attention or you are left floundering in confusion. 

The Shake's first rate cast entertains and amuses. The fairy costumes are sublime while the rest of the cast is dressed in 80's garb - inspiring me to listen to new wave ditties and dance by myself (a la Billy Idol). The fairies are charming with their frolicsome and undulating movements and trilling and clicking language all their own. Intermittent musical interludes give us a break from the Shakespearean language and are a welcomed change.  My favorite scene by far would have to be the fight in slow motion by the two pairs of lovers - it's a visual that can't be missed.

There were several stellar performances of note. Michael Daly as Nick Bottom captivated the audience with his comedic timing, impressions, and surprisingly - his singing voice. You can say that he stole the show. Courtney Moors as the put upon Helena (my favorite of the star crossed lovers) and Michele Vazquez as the desirable Hermia put in performances as seasoned vets instead of newbies in their debut season. They both can deliver their lines to perfection while screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of a cat fight. With the agility of an acrobat and the ability to switch from conniving and petulant to innocent and wistful in the blink of an eye, Claro Austria shines as mischievous Puck. Rounding out the cast are Wynn Harmon in two roles - Theseus, Duke of Athens and Oberon King of the Fairies; Sara Ireland also in two roles as Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons and Tatania, Queen of the Fairies; as well as the other half of the love quadrangle Avery Clark and Walter Kmiec as Lysander and Demetrius. Kudos to Harmon and Ireland for doing double duty. I'm sure one Shakespearean role is difficult enough to learn, but two...

Although it seemed as if the second half would never end, and I noticed one person asleep in the audience, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a fun-filled and surprisingly fresh production directed by David Lee. The show continues at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater until March 19th.

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