Just when you thought it might be an unmeetable challenge for a theater company to spin Shakespeare enough to create a unique perspective and presentation, Co-Directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott jump up and ace the challenge, with the assistance of a nimble, soulful, creative, and talented cast.
By Carol Edger Germain
Probably one of the most often produced of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream appeals to ages 14 and up and allows us to muse on the possibilities of magical assistance and manipulation from another level of consciousness and reality, i.e., the mischievous fairies who prank the mixed-up and angry characters. However, the opening retains the dark situation of a father asking for his daughter to be murdered if she will not marry the man he has chosen for her, but…ahem…”all’s well that ends well.”
The many talents of Kasey Mahaffy are all on display in his depiction of Puck, the private assistant to King Oberon (played by Zach Kenney, who also plays Athenian ruler Thesus). Cassandra Marie Murphy plays the First Fairy, and she sings, she flies, beautiful to watch and hear. The story has three dramas playing out simultaneously and looping in and out of each other.
First, Oberon calls on Puck to toss his fairy dust on Queen Titania (played by Trisha Miller, who also plays Amazonian Queen Hippolyta) because, being an early practitioner of women’s lib, she has really mucked things up and is making a fool of herself. Puck succeeds, enjoying enhancing Oberon’s request with maximum folly and humor, bumping the job description up to allow him to display his skills as a contrarian purveyor of chaos.
The next story line is the on-the-run young Athenian lovers, Lysander (Riley Shanahan) and Hermia (Jeanne Syquia), who are being chased by Demetrius (Rafael Goldstein) (who wants to wed Hermia) and Helena (Erika Soto) who is in love with Demetrius. Finally, there is an amateur acting troupe preparing their play for which they hope to reap fame and fortune (the hopeful actors are Frederick Stuart as Nick Bottom, Alex Morris as Peter Quince, Ed F. Martin as Flute, and Brendan Mulligan as Snug, with additional support for the ensemble by Hakop Mkhsian, Greta Donnelly, Rachel Han, and Lauren Sosa). This play-within-a-play is called “Pyramus and Thisbe” and involves a lion and a talking wall. No problem following that additional story line tossed into the mix, right? I mean, don’t we all hone that skill by watching two TV channels at once, flipping over to the news every 20 minutes, and answering texts as well? So basically – two pairs of mixed-up lovers and a troupe of amateur players stumble into the forest of feuding fairies, and reality is upended as chaos and mischief abound. So look, listen, laugh, and enjoy!
The acting, costumes, staging, and story twists are constant and excellent, plenty to see and hear. Acting, singing, flying, magic, falling in and out of love, and swooning between the real and the imaginary – anything can and does happen in this tumultuous, dreamlike world.
A Midsummer Night's Dream Runs through November 12: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 ONLY Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 27; Nov. 3, Nov. 10 Saturdays at 2:00 pm: Oct. 28; Nov. 4; Nov. 11 Saturdays at 8:00 pm: Oct. 28; Nov. 11 (No evening performance on Nov. 4) Sundays at 2:00 pm: Oct. 29; Nov. 5; Nov. 12 A Noise Within 3352 E Foothill Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91107 Convenient free parking behind the theater Tickets : anoisewithin.org (626) 356-3100
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