A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
For full program notes, tickets, and schedule : CPAC Website
RUN: June 12-21, 2015
RATING: 3 of 5 stars
(June 14, 2:00pm, 2015)
One of the most popular Shakespeare plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been staged in a variety of ways, from strictly Classical to modern day Hawaiian and everything in between. This production features a mingling of traditional and contemporary with the Athenians in 1950s inspired dress, Fairies in Grecian chitons, and the Mechanicals flaunting Steampunk genre. The distinction adds to an otherworldly lullaby theme of the faeries as they break into our world.
Duke Theseus, portrayed by Thomas Gibson, strode into his role with dignity and forceful wit, surrounded by military sycophants and a delightfully disdainful Hippolyta (Andrea Bennetto). Sweet and bubbly Hermia (Andrea Rosales-Jacinto) was utterly believable in her transition from joyful to a despondent and spurned lover. Her counterpart Lysander (Adriano Brown) is brilliant with physical comedy, leaping about the stage and balancing on railings in his attempt to win the newfound love of Helena. Nick Enriquez as Demetrius creates a character you love to hate, oiling his way into Hermia’s life, and leading his true love on only to disgrace her. Somewhat disappointing was Helena (Audrey Rink) who spoke rather rapidly in a manner that left the audience as helpless as Phineus of Thrace.
The Mechanicals of the play within a play were spectacular. Directors Amy Lovato and Yavé Guzman created unique dynamics between the players, using gender swapping to great comedic effect. Of special note was Jack Olney as Francis Flute and his look of revulsion on being informed he is playing Thisbe and Jonathan Graham as Nick Bottom who is dynamic as the overbearing actor and hilarious when transformed.
Oberon (Dan Stryker) has the presence and command of a king, garbed in brown and wielding a truly impressive staff. Stage effects bring touches of magic to his character, augmenting his already powerful demeanor. His assistants are satyrs in this production, with thorns drawn along their arms, which was visually striking. Unfortunately, Puck (John Slinkert) was over-the-top with his portrayal and self-conscious while doing so. I think he has potential, but his performance needs to be shaped with more precision.
The set was reminiscent of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, with marbled Hellenic ruins mingled with colored lights and touches of nature. It felt like Xena could leap into a scene with her trademark battle cry and not seem amiss. Holly Werner’s costume designs show an attention to detail that is often lacking in stage productions. The Steampunk garb of the Mechanicals was well tailored, reminding me of The Parasol Protectorate series, complete with wooden spools used to hold up the Tailor’s skirt.
If you enjoy Shakespeare and comic romps, Cloverdale’s production is a diverting way to spend the evening. The cast is young and enthusiastic, filled with energy, and while it is not the most polished version I have seen, it has a certain charm to it, and the production design values are high.