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Review of A Midsummer’s Night Dream

After months of hard work and rehearsals, the cast of A Midsummer's Night Dream gathers before a completed set, anxious for opening night.

Photo coutesy of CTHS Theatre

After months of hard work and rehearsals, the cast of A Midsummer's Night Dream gathers before a completed set, anxious for opening night.

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The lights dim and the simmering chatter from the crowd dies down as the anticipation sets in once again. Each year, after months of practice and dedication, CT Theatre puts on a play with three showings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Midsummer Night’s Dream- a Shakespearean comedy set in Athens, was the choice for the fall production this year. Based on our opinions, there were many successes and some downfalls that came from the play this year.

When Oberon stepped on to stage and remarked the first lines of the play, we were surprised that they were speaking in Shakespearean language because we had a preconceived notion that the play would be altered to fit the 60s/70s theme, as conveyed through the music and costume choices. This, however, did not take away from how well the characters displayed what was going on using the emotions that they interpreted the characters to have. Although the language could be confusing at times, we understood the on-goings of the play through the actions and emotions that the actors expressed.

The actors stayed true to the original Shakespeare characters, while they also added more expression and comedy to the parts that they played. The actors all had very notable stances and walks in addition to unique tones that allowed the audience to keep track of each of the character arcs and established personalities.

The costumes that the characters wore reflected the 60s/70s style that they were trying to accomplish. The bootleg jeans and peace sign necklace that Puck wore, and the bright colors and tie dye of the fairies and other characters in the forest adequately captured the feel of the 70s. However, outside of the forest, the theme was not developed and didn’t seem to carry through. We wish they would have chosen either the traditional feel or the 60s/70s theme and stuck to it because the faults in establishing both of them took away from the potential of having a theme that was well established. Overall, we feel that it was a valid attempt to modernize the Shakespearean play, which is often difficult to relate to, but the 60s/70s theme was not developed enough to be effective.

An aspect of the play that was really well done was the modernization of the romance and conflict within it, which was best displayed through the feud between Demetrius (Tyler Black) and Lysander (Mac Bowman). Their physicality – from the defensive poses, throwing of each other, and dramatic falls – made the audience uproar in laughter. Though they didn’t have any lines as they were fighting, they stole the scene. The interactions between Demetrius and Lysander along with those involving Hermia (Briella Sanders) and Helena (Jordan Shykind) possessed a funny and entertaining feel that was applicable to the drama of a high school setting. The actors were able to incorporate comedy into the play that transcended time – making the comedy that Shakespeare wrote funny and understandable for the demographic of the audience. Overall, we were impressed by the actors’ ability to memorize such a challenging script, and to articulate the Shakespearean language with little error. Their projection was commendable as well, since microphones are prone to breaking out from time to time, they were able to always be understood.

Here are some characters that we thought were the most notable in the play, although each and every actor did an amazing job at portraying their characters.

Puck (Joshua Steckler)

Right off the bat Josh was able to establish the comical nature of himself through this character. The scooter, a very humorous addition to the play, would’ve fallen flat if it had been anybody else’s. From his facial expressions to joyous kicks, he made the simple prop a staple to his character. As the only character with this chosen apparatus, since the others had bicycles, he emphasized the distinguishment of his character from the rest.

Nick Bottom (Logan Schweigerdt)

Amazing use of expression, from his voice fluctuations to his cocky stature, he conveyed the overconfidence and arrogance of his character. He accurately depicted the character of Bottom while also applying his own humor and emotions to the part. The entirety of the last scene with Peter Quince’s play ended the entire production on a comedic note that left the audience in tears from laughter.

Helena (Jordan Shykind)

Though her pace was a bit fast at times, we think she was able to create a strong, recognizable personality for her character. A favorite moment of ours was as she was desperately trying to hold onto Demetrius (Tyler Black), her smitten tone as she confessed her love both relatable and entertaining.

Lysander (Mac Bowman)

The character of Lysander was elevated by Bowman’s portrayal of him through his quirky actions and witty remarks throughout the play. He portrayed another side of the character that was articulated in such a way that added more comedy to the production.

 

The portrayal of the characters by the actors was a major aspect of the play, but no production would be the same without the sets to set the stage. The set was well executed with a sharp paint job and various structures that gave it a clean and captivating look. The vines that were added to the forest gave it a mystical look that separated the setting of Athens from that of the forest. Prior to the release of the vines, we could hear thuds and ripples coming from the catwalk, slightly distracting, but understandable, as preparing the set props and lighting is difficult to do without sound.

The drop of the vines and lights was striking and impressive- as they all appeared to fall in almost unison. However, we wish that when they had to gather them to be brought back up, they had closed the curtain. It is impressive that they were able to clear the vines and lights within the intermission time, but we wish the curtains had closed promptly as intermission began, as to cleanly end the first half.

Overall, the set was impressive, but the only thing that was added to the set in order to display a change in setting was the vines and the characters entering in on bicycles. We wish there were a few more striking details that could have been added to elevate the set once there was a change in setting. Something to distinguish the forest from Athens more effectively than just the vines (even though they were well executed). Also the set encompassed so much of the stage that it seemed cramped. When characters exited, especially with their bicycles, the edge of the set was so close to the curtains that they had to slow down and squeeze through. If there had been more space between the set and the backstage curtains, the exits would have been faster and cleaner.

Overall, the play was well executed. Both the cast and crew performed excellently. It was impressive how the actors were able to present their characters to the audience and add comedy to the hard to understand language. The play was well executed and ambitious, but we don’t think that it was the best production we’ve seen or our favorite in total.

 

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