MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
May 9, 2012
A hearty entertainment blanketed in rose petals and hair-brained
schemes marks Classic Stage Company’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”
effervescently directed by Tony Speciale. In a clever casting choice, Taylor Mac (downtown performance artist, and drag queen) appears as the
ever-changing Puck. No funnier or more affable a Puck has ever emerged from
Shakespeare’s magical woods.
In old Athens, the young Hermia (Christina Ricci)
loves Lysander (Nick Gehlfuss), while Helena (Halley Wegryn Gross)
loves Demetrius (Jordan Dean) who loves Hermia, Distraught over her father’s
insistence she marry Demetrius (upon pain of banishment to a nunnery or
death), Hermia flees into the woods with her true love Lysander. Not to be
abandoned by his amour, Demetrius races after Hermia and in his wake flies
Helena. Inside the woods, fairy quarrels threaten the tree-lined
Over the spongy, grass filled stage by Mark Wendland tilts a mirrored wall
reflecting the human antics and visual sprays of color and rose petals. Deep
in the verdant darkness, the king and queen of the fairies are having their
own little dust up over an adopted Indian boy. King Oberon (Anthony
Heald) demands Queen Titania (Bebe Neuwirth) hand over her attractive
changeling for his entourage, but Titania will have none of it.
To punish the unbending Queen, the theatrically persuasive Oberon commands
Puck spray her with a flower’s drug that will make her fall in love with the
first thing she sees upon awakening.
With his trunk of outfits plus manic desire to appease his master and jolly
up life, Puck consistently snatches the spotlight. When the two pairs of
lovers land, Oberon decides to turn Demetrius’ eye towards Helena with a
little help from Puck’s magic love potion. Only Puck sprays (literally)
Lysander who suddenly pines for Helena. Now Helena and Hermia are about as
big as two Barbie dolls compared to Lysander and Demetrius who are buffed studs.
size animates George de la Pena’s choreographic decisions and Carrie
Brewer’s fight sequences
posting the women on the shoulders of their two centaur-like beaus while they
tear at each other’s hair in a true joust. All four race, drop and roll
across the green carpeted floor, in tricky twisting patterns throughout the
In another section of the forest, Titania wiggles her
arms like a mesmerizing swan, and wakes to the love-filled vision of a
donkey (Steve Skybell) who scratches and hoofs along under her adoring gaze.
As for Shakespeare’s language, Heald and Mac
navigate the text like pros and Gehlfuss, Dean and Skybell include a few good turns.
As much a dance as a theater production, this version of A Midsummer Night’s
Dream lifts the spirit and sticks to the memory.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis