The GW Theatre and Dance Department gave a modern twist to its version of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The production is a hip, non-traditional portrayal of the classic satire.
The appeal of the show is the production’s minimalist approach. Director Alan Wade creates a mystical world with fairies, the forest and even the city with a simple set of white columns and mystical lighting. This clever set-up allows the actors to move and interact with their changing surroundings without having their talents overwhelmed by the scenery.
The costumes are simple but effective. The characters don contemporary clothing such as khakis, jeans and sweaters, bringing a down-to-earth and closer-to-home feeling to the Shakespearean play. The fairy druids and other mystical characters wear vibrant robes. Masks are used effectively to mark the transformation from reality to fantasy. The minimal costuming also allows the actors and actresses to set the mood and bring the story to life by their own talents – and that is what makes the play worth going to see.
For a young group of thespians, the cast held its own in a production that is difficult even for professional entertainers. Patricia Jenson as the love struck Helena, Nizar Wattad as the cunning Oberon and charming Theseus, and Mary C. Davis as the fairy queen Titania give stellar performances. As the rascally Puck, Clark Harding gives a commendable performance.
The role of Puck is vital to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Harding rises to the occasion.
The only thing that may offend the senses is the play’s sound. At times, the different sound effects or background music nicely complement the scenes. But at other times, the sounds are overwhelming or set at the wrong tone for the scene. In the opening scene, a man is sweeping in the background, and the brushing sound overpowers the characters’ dialogues. The background sounds prove distracting when they compete with the words, which should be the main focus.
Despite the minor technical glitches, which may be worked out by opening night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream boasts talented cast and offers an interesting twist on a classic.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre.