BWW Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Brings Magic to Sacramento Theatre Company
A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, brings to us a night of frivolity and fun peppered with love. A favorite subject of the Bard, this work explores the staying power of true love and the measures that we will take to ensure that it happens. Although it is believed to have been written as entertainment for an upper-class wedding around the year 1600, the themes withstand the test of time and cross the boundaries of social status.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, we see a dichotomy between the city of Athens and a nearby enchanted forest-a practical vs. magical, duty vs. desire scenario. Hermia wants to marry her love, Lysander. Her father, Egeus, insists that she choose Demetrius. Another young lady, Helena, is intent on having Demetrius for herself. All four flee to the woods and find themselves the unwitting victims of a lovers' quarrel between the fairy king, Oberon, and his queen, Titania. Knavery handed out by Oberon's henchman (hench-centaur?), Puck, makes a folly of all of the romantic intentions.
Shakespeare purists may not fully appreciate director Casey McClellan's (BroadwayWorld Best Director of The Diary of Anne Frank) vision of combining modern costuming for Athenians (skinny jeans with an Imperial Officer's top) with a more ethereal, traditional look for the fae. After some introspection, I see it as a bridge between two worlds. Not only the absolute with the fantasy but the old with the new. It can be a symbol of the past connecting with the present and existing harmoniously and relevantly. In the same vein, McClellan brilliantly lures in a modern audience by adding contemporary, relatable humor that meshes surprisingly seamlessly with 16th century prose.
Adding to the charm of the production are Darek Riley as Demetrius and Dan Fagan as Lysander, both masterfully comedic and worthy of the affections bestowed upon them in the forest. Ian Capper was an opening-night sleeper delight as a cross-dressing Flute. Not surprisingly, the inimitable Ian Hopps stole the show as the impish (dare I say puckish?) Puck. As always, Hopps inhabits his character so thoroughly that you don't know where one ends and the other begins. Puck was veritable Cupid of the forest-a naughty, playful, lithe and agile part canine/part centaur, at it again with his antics and feeding off of the energy of the audience, who lapped up every bit he gave them.
Go. Go to the theatre to see why Shakespeare's works are still being performed 400 years later. Go and enjoy Casey McClellan's always-insightful interpretations. Go and take your children and grandchildren to immerse them in culture that needs to be preserved and brought forth. Go see why "the course of true love never did run smooth." Go.
A Midsummer Night's Dream plays at the Sacramento Theatre Company through March 17. Tickets may be obtained by calling (916) 443-6722, at the box office at 1419 H Street in Sacramento, or online at www.sactheatre.org.
Photo Credit: Charr Crail Photography