A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sumptuous is the first word that comes to mind when describing the Citadel’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The sets, the costumes, the lighting and the music (especially the pre-show birdsong) were all lush and very effective in drawing me into the wooded location as well as the feelings of the characters in this show – one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
There are plays within this play – and it is ambitious in that it tackles three worlds and storylines that overlap. First there is “The Court” – Athenians who are wooed and wooing one another. Of course, there is unrequited love – both Lysander and Demetrius love Hermia, but she loves only Lysander. And Demetrius is adored by Helena (played to absolute perfection by Shannon Taylor) but he will have none of her.
Secondly, there are “The Mechanicals” – the lower-born working men who meet to prepare a play for presentation to The Court at an upcoming wedding. The self-aggrandizing Nick Bottom is a weaver with dreams of theatrical greatness, and – as played by the enormously talented Julien Arnold – could be said to steal the show. He deserves all the laughs and audience appreciation he garners.
And then there are “The Fairies” – those mythical creatures whose play and mischief make up such a large part of the stories in the other two worlds. The acrobatic grace (and daring!) of Jonathan Purvis (Puck) combined with the graceful dancing and fluttery costumes of all the fairies captivated the audience and added a wonderfully physical dimension to the theatrical experience.
It is to be noted that this is a long show, and there are a few spots that lagged, due in part to the less strong performances of some of the actors as they tackled the challenge that is Shakespearean language. However, on balance, the performances were wonderful, with Chris Bullough (doing double duty as the obsequious Master of Revels and Francis Flute) shining in both his roles and Alexander McCooeye (Robin Starveling) making the most of every word, gesture and minute on stage. A dream of a play, indeed!