Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

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note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Chris Cavalier Choreography by Betsi Graves Akerstein

Assistant Director Vicki Schairer
Assistant Choreographer Nicole Pavone
Costume Design by Elizabeth Rocha
Lighting Design by Eli Matzner
Sound Design by Tom Campbell
Mask Design by Eric Bornstein
Hair Design by Sisters of The Moon
Faerie Design Consultant James Dattolo
Graphic Designers Jared Fennelly/Siouxsie Campbell
Production Assistant Alix Strasnick
Producers Chris Cavalier/Catherine Cope Cavalier/Judith Kalaora
Stage Manager Candice D. Mongellow


Helena............Judith Kalaora
Hermia..............Erica Lustig
Lysander..........Timothy Hoover
Demetrius......Dmitriy Molchanov


Theseus..........Jordan Greeley
Hippolyta.....Ashley Korolewski
Egeus.............David Jarratt
Philostrate........Bunty Shakur


Oberon..........Christopher Schulz
Titania.......Melissa Marie Walker
Puck..................Julie Becker
Cobweb..............Michala Hansen
Dewdrop..............Carolyn Sarro
Firefly..............Leanne Annese
Henri.................Bunty Shakur
Mustardseed..........Blake Whitney
Moth...............Mia Rose Cowper
Peaseblossom.........Nicole Pavone
Wisp....................Jess Myers

Yes, there is an intriguing brand-new "Midsummer Night's Dream" at the BCA --- but be warned: The Contemporary Theatre of Boston have swept away all its traditions, even cut away whole scenes and themes and characters, in order to get down to the naked truth of this provocative theatrical experience. It's not "THE Dream" but "A Dream", with action swelling and receeding out of total darkness. (When is it you do most of Your dreaming?) To enjoy CTB's Dream you would best have the same bravery, imagination and open-mindedness as the people who made it. Leave all preconceptions at the door, trust their artistic integrity --- and your own --- and walk into the dark. You may detest what's there --- many have --- but it will be impossible to look away.

Pause a moment at that door. Inside the entire stage is empty of set, and only a brooding twilight picks out two square gleaming-black columns, and it may help to know a few things before you enter and allow your eyes to accustom themselves to two hours of darkness shot with dim, specific little pools of light. Some things will not be there --- commedians, for instance. There will be no rude mechanicals braying their way through a Community Theatre send-up of a funny love-tragedy. What is there instead is a writhe of bodies dancing barefoot and sometimes bare-breasted to intense well-chosen music.

The company, you see, has clawed away all airy illusion to lay bare the bedrock conflict of the play --- which is sex itself. "And this same progeny of evils comes from our debate, from our dissension" Oberon says to his proud Titania, and so every hard word from their mouths, and from those of everyone, is for keeps.

In this crepuscular gloom the agonies of young, thwarted love cut like knives. Hermia, ordered to marry as her father wishes or to die the death, is broken by her choice and ready to fly through shadowed woods, only to find that true love's course never does run smooth. And even Oberon's love-potion, meant to mend all, brangles all before final resolution.

Here, in sardonic rage, a king of faerie, to teach a lesson, mates his queen to a sword-horned satyr with a bright blue penis while a half-dozen sprites expose all the entwined ecstasies that bodies can be capable of.

Eyes that accustom to darkness here will see, and think they see, unnamed forbidden rituals. Musics from several ages will seem comment rather than mere accompaniment. As the episodic show progresses, broken as with intermittent lightnings, incongruities abound. At court, where haughty Hippolyta accepts a conquering Theseus as a suitor, Philostrate the master of revels stands at the background silently, rhythmically exercizing with a weighty dumbell; twice Egeus the craggy, blind, insistent father steps into a pool of light to sing, a capella, an aria of Italian opera; thunderous wall-of-sound rock contrasts with softly-sung solo; and silhouetting see-through gauzes blink into pure-white dresses under harsher light.

The Contemporary Theatre of Boston has re-interpreted Shakespeare in intense, sincerely expressed ways, and for those eager enough to try, the result can be magic --- or blasphemy.

You decide!

( a k a larry stark )

"Midsummer Night's Dream" (2 - 19 June)
@ Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide