Review: An enchanted ‘Midsummer Night’ in March
March 7, 2013
What do lovers, fairies, a queen, a king, a troupe of amateur actors, magic potions and a donkey have in common? You would be correct if you answered that they comprise the topsy-turvy elements of Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” But an even more accurate answer is that they all are now frolicking at the Nevada Theatre in Sierra Stages’ fun production of that popular play.
Millions of words have been written to analyze Shakespeare’s plays — this one has received more than its share — but basically it is about love, power, fantasy, relationships and dreams. Lovers love, couples argue, eventually all are reunited. The town by day is rational, the forest by night is dream-like — were the fairies and all the strange happenings in the forest real or imagined? The journey itself is lyrical, lovely and fantastical, and as in all good romantic comedies, it ends happily.
The first thing I noted when I entered the theater was the beautiful and functional set, designed by Mike Edwards, a newcomer to Sierra Stages. Throughout the play, the very imaginative lighting by Erin Beatie effectively plays off and enhances the set, subtly changing mood and atmosphere, day and night, forest and town. Sharon Olson’s creative costumes compliment and heighten the fantasy.
Jac Royce, an experienced Shakespearean in her directorial debut with Sierra Stages, has taken a cast of almost 20 actors and forged them into a coherent whole. This play is an ambitious undertaking, but Royce has brought out the best qualities of each of her actors. Especially in the shorter second act, the energy of the entire troupe shone brightly. Most of the first act moved smartly, but there were a couple of instances where a lot of dialogue, coupled with little movement, created too static of an atmosphere.
Notable in the cast is Sam Haley-Hill as the impish Puck, energetically dispensing his naughtiness. I’ve enjoyed watching Isaias Acosta mature in his performances over the past couple of years — as Bottom, Acosta has to morph from merely comically ignorant to literally making an ass of himself (pun intended). The always impressive Robert Rossman plays the dual roles of Theseus and Oberon, who as King of the Fairies has a glint of mischief in his eyes. The other lead actors who contribute to the fun are Marion Jeffery in the dual roles of Hippolyta and Titania; Lyra Dominguez as Hermia; Conor Nolan as Demetrius; Casey Burke as Lysander; and Tinley Ireland as Helena.
One of the difficulties with a play by Shakespeare is that there are so many words, spoken rapidly and in English different from what is in current usage. I would like to compliment the Sierra Stages troupe for its articulation — I could clearly understand all of the dialogue. However, I would advise those with any hearing impairment to sit closer to the stage as some of the actors are a bit soft-spoken.
For an amusing and enchanted evening, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” continues at the Nevada Theatre through March 23.
Hindi Greenberg has loved Shakespeare ever since her brilliant 11th-grade English teacher spent a month presenting and analyzing every nuance of “Macbeth.”