Monday, October 2, 2017

A Midsummer Night’s Dream—The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven—SE Portland

Immersed in Dreams

Speculative Drama and Susurrations present Shakespeare’s most famous comedy directed by Myrrh Larsen and Wendy Wilcox.  It is playing at the above space, on SE 2nd & Hawthorne (near Madison), through October 14th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 262-586-9774.

This famous fantasy has had many stage and screen incarnations, as well as taking place in all sorts of exotic places and time periods, such as Georgia, Alaska, the Hippie era of the 60’s, in a Circus and even a summer home in modern times, et. al.  Film has seen MGM in the 30’s have the story peppered with their stars including Dick Powell, Norma Shearer, James Cagney and Mickey Rooney, and company; the BBC of the 60’s had Diana Rigg, David Warner and Ian Holm, et al; the 90’s had Kevin Klein and Michele Phieffer and others; and Oregon has had stage presentations by Post 5, OSF, PAC, Beaverton, and PCS.  All quite good in their own ways.

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 (all three voiced performances), Theseus (Todd Van Voris), Hippolyta (Sarah McGregor) and their friend, Egeus (Matt Pavik), father of Hermia.  They have invited to their celebration a couple of potential suitors for Hermia (Peyton McCandless), Lysander (Katie Mortemore) and Demetrius (Rega Lupo), the latter being the one that Egeus favors, as well as Hermia’s best friend, Helena (Myia Johnson).  But, as it so happens, both men are in love with Hermia.  This leaves her friend, Helena, as the odd wo-man out, but who also happens to have the hots for Demetrius.  “What fools these mortals be!” 

The local Fairies (Elisha Goodwin, Emily Helliwell, Kirsten Webb, Tora Holmes and Telo Walden), consisting of the King, Oberon (Rhansen Mars) and Titania (Megan Skye Hale, also company’s Artistic Director) and the King’s main man, the merry prankster himself, Robin Goodfellow, or Puck (Zed Jones), delight in causing even more confusion to these silly simpletons.  But, they are not beyond problems themselves, as the Queen has taken a Changeling Boy under her wing and is all but ignoring the King, who wants the boy for his own purposes.  But with a little magical love potion and some misdirection from Puck, the forest becomes a kaleidoscope of misadventures for all.

To further confuse the plot, some local tradesmen, the “rude mechanicals,” are attempting to entertain the royal court with a “tragical-comedy.”  Bottom/Pyramus (Matt Ostrowski), Flute/Thisby (Emily Hyde),   Snug/Lion (Megan Haynes) and their leader, Peter Quince/Wall/Moonlight (Elizabeth Neal) are making a mess of the play, to say the least, and Bottom becomes a real ass in the process.  I don’t believe it would be a spoiler to say that things eventually turn out “happily ever after” but, like all good things to be gotten, obstacles must be overcome, evils put at bay and love won, not taken for granted, so perhaps a better summation might be, and they lived…“hopefully” ever after!

This expansive story is beautifully rendered, like an imaginative painting or fine wine, in a diminutive setting, so that is can be more personally enveloped/absorbed into one’s being, to be savored and enjoyed.  It is amazing how universal the Bard’s works are, which can be translated to panoramic backdrop or, what is even better in my opinion, told simply in a story-book fashion, like this production, as a parent might do for a child, so that they can imagine the wonders of the surroundings and bring that world into their own.  Larsen and Wilcox have done just that and very well, too.  Also, a small but important point, perhaps, but I totally agree with the interpretation of Thisby’s last speech being given seriously, as these trades-people are not trying to be funny in their presentation, and so the humor comes from laughing with them, not at them.

The cast is exceptionally good, all the characters having their own unique twists.  I especially liked Jones as the mischievous merry-maker, the Pan-like Puck, as he romped about the forest, care-free and devil-may-care.  Mars was quite articulate and matter-of-fact as the demanding King of the Fairies, and Hale, as his not-to-be-trifled with Queen, standing her ground for feminine rights.  And Ostrowski was the perfect example of the blue-collared, gravel-voiced ugly duckling among the swans but, in his case, “ne’er the twain shall meet.”

If the Bard’s lingo scares you, this might be the ticket to bring you home, as it is disarming and accessible to ears and eyes that are open to new ways of appreciating things.  I recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

No comments:

Post a Comment