Some enchanted evening


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Judith Jarosz
Theater Ten Ten
1010 Park Avenue, Manhattan
(; 212-288-3246)
Equity showcase (closes March 11th)
Review by David Mackler


It’s easy to throw A Midsummer Night’s Dream out of balance – there are the pairs of moon-crossed lovers, then there are those rude mechanicals. Often the lovers are in such perfect sync with their out-of-whack, juice-of-the-flower induced crisscrossing that Nick Bottom and his pals seem superfluous. Or contrariwise, the preparation and performance of “The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby” can be so delightful that the romantic mix-ups pale in comparison.


So it’s a pleasure to report that Theater Ten Ten’s production is delightful on all counts, from the sparkling magical forest (set design by Mathew Smith) to performances all the way down the line. The only fly in the ointment is Hermia’s mean old father who would prefer her dead before he’ll let her marry someone not on his approved list. Could he really mean it? Well, no matter, after the intro of Theseus and Hippolyta stick-fighting (with Nat Cassidy  and Lisa Riegel performing this representation of courtship with a sexy fascination) gets the plot started. Suitors Demetrius (David Tillistrand) and Lysander (Devin Delliquanti) have the right combination of straightforward and bozo, and Hermia (Tatiana Gomberg) is petite, perky, and completely convinced of her appeal. Helena is usually a scene stealer, but Lynn Marie Macy performs grand larceny, and the bits that director Jarosz has come up with give even more layers of humor to Shakespeare’s words. She’s carrying a small basket, see, and as she ponders suicide, the poison, knife and gun inside make matter-of-fact appearances. It sounds mildly amusing, but as played it’s priceless.


Then there are the common folk. As led by David Fuller’s glorious Bottom, they are anything but common. All of them – Arthur Atkinson as Peter Quince, Kristopher Monroe as Flute, Lisa Ferraro as Starveling, Andrew Clateman as Snout and Gael Schaefer as Snug – under- and over-play beautifully, making their appearances seem too few, and too brief. They’re so funny when performing their play (watch what Monroe does with heels and a wig) that their audience of Oberon, Titania and the foursome of lovers seem churlish making fun of them. And Bottom’s pleasure at being loved by Titania (Riegel), well, it’s also priceless.


As Oberon, Cassidy is a terrific observer and listener, never upstaging the action in front of him, but not passive either. Clateman, Atkinson, Monroe, Ferraro and Schaefer are also unaffectedly funny as the fairies. Clateman is also an extremely funny Philostrate, and Annalisa Loeffler’s Puck glides smoothly through her mischief. The sound effects (design by Shauna Horn) are beautifully integrated, and the lighting change from night to day (design by Jay Scott) was beautifully effective. Jason Wynn’s underscore set place and mood, well, beautifully.


One more directorial small touch (there were lots) – watch for the way Titania casually uses a fairy so she can sit. So the final score here on Mechanicals vs. Lovers? If it’s not a draw, it’s very, very close.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 2

Copyright 2007 David Mackler

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