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.
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
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.
Copyright 2007 David Mackler
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