Friday, July 20, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Post5 Theater, Portland, Oregon

A Night of Revelry

Lovers . . . Poets . . . Fools . . .Madmen . . . and Fairies, all present and accounted for in the Port5 Theatre's production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT"S DREAM, playing its final performance Thursday adn Friday, July 20th adn 21st at 7pm in an outdoor courtyard at 850 SE 82st Avenue in Portland, OR.  Tickets are free but donations gratefully appreciated.

erforming Shakespeare is no easy task, even for the most professional of companies.  The constant changing of locations, the poetic language, the large casts, the numerous props/costumes/make-up challenges have defeated many a worthy production.  Not so in this case.

To have found a group of 25+ individuals that can “wax poetic” from the Bard with nary a weak voice, is a company to be reckoned with.  And to keep an audience in rapt attention for almost three hours is a delight not to be missed.  To paraphrase Mr. S., if this be the music of fun, play on.

The story, in short, is the mixing of oil and water and the ensuing results.  It takes place in and around the nuptial eve of the local royalty, Theseus and Hippolyta.  They have invited to their celebration, among others, prominent young men, Lysander and Demetrius, who both happened to be in love with the same woman, Hermia.  This leaves Helena as the odd wo-man out, who happens to have the hots for Demetrius.

But with a little misadventure from the local Fairies, this gets twisted around so that all the male hormones are directed toward Helena.  Add to this mix, are the local yokels, town-folks who plan on performing at this feast.  And one of them, Bottom, turns out to be a real ass, thanks again, to the fairy pranksters.  Confused yet?  Well, add to all this, that it takes place in Athens…Georgia, that is, complete with Southern accents.

Trust me, it’s not all that difficult to follow.  The sparse settings actually add to the fact that it is necessary for one to concentrate on the language and performances.  And there is rarely a sour note in this merry mix of mischief.

The depiction of the Fairies, in particular, are a saucy stew of 60’s hippies and a more primal species of a tribal congregation from a world long gone.  Lost boys (girls) from Neverland?!  Misfit toys, long forgotten?!  And Robin Goodfellow, Puck, played expertly by Orion Bradshaw (Managing Director of the group).  His command of the language, his body movements & gestures, and voice, “play trippingly” on all the senses of the audience.

Gerrin Mitchell as Oberon, King of the Fairies, is articulate and precise in the language and his presence onstage, demands attention.  Alex Leigh Ramirez as Titania, the Queen, has grace and beauty in her movements but her voice at times was a little soft so as not to be heard.  The large ensemble of energetic Fairy merry-makers was exciting to experience.

“The Rude Mechanicals,” the performing troupe of town-folk, was aptly entertaining.  Todd Hermanson (Bottom) gave a good account of himself as the blustering, boisterous buffoon.  And to prove there are no small roles, Kerry Ryan as Quince, the leader of the group, was a delight to watch every time she was onstage.  Her attempts at commanding such a seemingly inept group and trying to have them present a professional-looking show, struck a personal chord for anyone working with earnest amateurs.

A note about these courageous clowns, is that they should appear to be trying to do what they feel is a credible job, although totally out of their league.  The humor comes out of the situation, not out of them trying to be funny.  To their eyes, they are being sincere.  This happens later in the production but needs to be present earlier.

And the lovers, Jade Hobbs, Krissy Rector, Noah Dunham and Steve Vanderzee are all very good at presenting their characters and situations.  They are amusing, flirtatious, na├»ve and completely believable as young lovers.  Especially outstanding was Jade Hobbs as Helena.  Her body and mind were as one as she maneuvered through her delicious antics.

The directors, Erica Terpening-Romeo and Caitlin Fisher-Draeger, have managed a terrific job of interpreting and presenting this production.  All the little added nuances of discovery and pacing of the show have added to the enjoyment.  “May they live long and prosper."

This production will please both the Shakespeare purist and novice, I believe.  And the company seems to be on a fairly solid tract with they group they have.  Their destination assuredly will be rewarding.

Check out their website as to upcoming  There was about a hundred people at Sunday night’s production and it was full.  So best get there early and check out the galleries and food this establishment has to offer.  And bring a chair.  Tell them Dennis at Uncovered sent you.