The second show, or first depending how you count, of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy wherein some fairies screw around with some humans and with each other. Should you see it?
Really, this review is going to all boil down to that but you probably want a few more words than one so:
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon, King of the Fairy folk is vexed by a disagreement with Titania, Queen of the Fairy folk, and so decides to make an ass of her by using a magical flower to make her fall in love with an ass – or at least a human who’se been given the head of an ass by Oberon’s mischievous servant, Puck. Along the way Oberon and Puck spy some Athenians (humans) and use the flower to heavily complicate and reverse a love quadrangle. It’s both simpler and more complicated than that but it works to see it.
Dream is actually a strange show in that the second act is entirely dénoument followed by a troupe of actors within the play putting on a play for the actors in the play. The reason it works is because it’s a huge amount of fun from beginning to end and it’s no wonder that this is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
And how did the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival deliver the goods? With gravy.
Seriously, there is nothing but good to say about the experience, and not enough good that I can say. And note that it -is- an experience because out in Prescott this show happens all around, and often includes, the audience in the illusion.
The entire cast was pitch perfect from beginning to end and it was especially interesting to see them playing these roles having just seen Othello a few hours earlier. Quincy Armorer’s Oberon had panache – and I didn’t want to smack him so, bonus. Titania is magnificent in the hands of Alix Sideris. The four Athenian lovers were all first-rate but I’ll single out Lana Sugarman’s Hermia because her hair and dress was such a perfect quirky look and her characterization was a fun almost 180 degree turn from her Desdemona.
The fairy court was out of this world with their unique movement and action-style, especially Allison Hess who was positively bewitching.
The Mechanicals probably had the most out-and-out laughs with their absurd presentation of Pyramus and Thisbe (the play within the play) and Ron Klappolz’s Bottom was brilliantly over the top.
And Puck. Puck was on fire. Melissa Morris had so much energy, so much life, so much awesomeness, that she couldn’t have been more perfect for this role.
Melissa Morris also acted as musical director which proved just another highlight of an outstanding show. In addition to in-show music, there were delightful musical numbers before each act that (as with Othello) weren’t part of the play proper but were completely in line with it. Post-intermission, the lovers interpreted Lady Gaga.
With so much movement and intricacy and just so much going on, it’s impossible not to commend the remarkable job done by director Catriona Leger working with this cast. Costumes were equally notable, and John Doucet’s set – plus how the cast put it up in medias res – is really a “you have to see it” moment.
Yes, I blasted through my max word count in the last paragraph and I’m kind of gushing, so I hope I’m getting across just how much you want to make sure to get out to Prescott and experience it while you can. St. Lawrence Shakepeare Festival’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was, dare I say, perfect.
What did you think of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Tell me in the comments below. I want to know. If you haven’t seen it yet, are you planning to? Remember, the play takes place outdoors at the beautiful Kinsmen Ampitheatre in Prescott amd prepare accordingly. Sunscreen, bug spray, sunbrella, blanket/cushion.
Photos for this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho.