A Midsummer’s Night Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Lee
Staring Wynn Harmon, Avery Clark, Walter Kmiec, Michele Vazquez, Claro Austria
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL
While these mortals may well be fools, they are exceptionally funny fools. You may have seen this melodrama before – Theseus (Harmon) and Hippolyta (Sarah Ireland) lounge as elegantly as F. Scott Fitzgerald protagonist as they wait for their wedding day. Egeus (Darryl Pickett) begs for some back up in his fatherly prerogative – his daughter Hermia (Vasquez) despises her betrothed Demetrius (Kmiec) but has the hots for scruffy Lysander (Clark). And we all know that in Athens you marry who daddy tells you or its time for a Styx concert. Helena (Courtney Moore) would just as soon wed Demetrius and they all run off to the magic forest to escape authority and social concerns. It’s the right choice, fairy King Oberon (Harmon) scores some Lotus courtesy of his connection Puck (Austria). Oberon’s queen Titania (Ireland) annoyed him, and with his magic powers, magic flowers and magic smoke machine he confuses everyone to the point of straightening out their sex lives just as they should be. He even leaves the local community theatre lead by Patty Quince (Anne Hering) with more pleasant pipe dreams than amateur actors ever get in real life.
So what went right tonight? Let’s start with the set – Bob Phillips combination of smoke, cold lighting and minimalist trees presents just enough obstacles for the actors exploit, but not so much as to destroy the charm of smoke filled bubbles falling from the rafters. Chittery fairies attack the lovers like a mutant Voci performance, and the orthogonal black and white Pink Floyd opening number head fakes the audience, adding wonder to the misty colors of ancient Athens. While Oberon and Puck hold the reigns of action, patching plot holes as the quadrangle of lovers provides the comedy – misaimed lust enflames pillow fights, protestations of eternal love fall before the mantra of “wait, I saw someone shiny…” and smoke and sprites that rise from the floor mingle with desultory falling leaves. Grounding the story are the mechanicals rehearsing their earnest amateur theatric which ties us all together – in love as in theatre, showing up on time is 80% of success and as long as the laughs flow, continuity be damned.
Michael Daly was brilliant as Bottom the Weaver. Anne Hering was brilliant as Quince the producer. Matt Wenge was brilliant as Snug The Joiner playing the cowardly lion. Christopher Kiley as Francis Flute fielded balloon titties like a trouper. Even poor Egeus, the McGuffin of the show, came across as the psychotic in-law you should never marry into. The set was…the light were… David Lee was…you get my drift. “Midsummer” might be the one Shakespeare comedy that can work in the modern world without fart jokes, and this is the production that proves it. I just wanted more smoky bubbles.
For more information on Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit