LaSalle Players third show of their season is Shakespeare's romantic comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream". It was suggested by "A Knight's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" and written around 1594 to 1596. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors. Moonlight, magic and midsummer madness infect the lovers, tradesmen and fairies in this tale. It takes place in and around the Duke's palace and the moonlit forest in Athens. The plot revolves around Theseus, the Duke of Athens impending marriage to a feisty Hippolyta, an Amazon warrior. It also concerns the lovers. Hermia loves Lysander, but is promised to Demetrius by her mother. She refuses to marry him, Egeus complains to Theseus who orders Hermia to obey her mother's wishes or die. Hermia and Lysander run off together to the woods. They are pursued by her friend Helena and Demetrius, whom she loves and to whom she has told about the lovers' escape plan. The four of them are lost in the woods and set upon by mischievous fairies led by young prankster Puck who wreaks havoc with the people caught in there. It is orchestrated by Oberon, the King with mayhem resulting. Oberon is distracted by problems with his own lover, Titania the queen and plays a major practical joke on her. Add in the hilarious country bumpkins practicing a tragic comedy for the Duke's nuptials and you have the ingredients for the laugh riot that follows. Director Kristopher Lencowski from Brown University takes his 17 high school students on a whirlwind trip of one of the Bard's best known shows. It will help you escape from your current day problems into the magical world of the past. He has Puck enter from the audience, climbing on the backs of the seats in the audience. Puck invites the performers onstage with him, tips over a table explaining this is a balcony and for the audience to use their imaginations to participate in the hour and forty minute show that follows.
Director Lencowski obtains the slapstick antics necessary to pull this show off by his talented cast. He keeps the cast around the playing area playing multiple groups of people, almost like an improv troupe. They supply the sound effects. David Cabral from PC supplies the costumes especially impressive are the farce outfits at the end of the show. The lighting design is by Mrs. Elissa Pensa Cerros. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Molly Nocera as Bottom, the weaver. Her over the top delivery is splendid and definitely needed to capture the comic essence Shakespeare planned for this show. Molly's powerful vocal prowess,facial expressions and physical comedy are topnotch. Her farcical antics excel even when she has a donkey ears on her head. Molly and her fellow trades-people are a hoot in the closing scene of the show where the lovers comically kill themselves like in "Romeo and Juliet" but with more humorous results. Molly's death scene is a showstopper where she tries to kill herself in various ways and is dressed like a Roman soldier from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", knocks four huge columns over and one of her funniest lines is "What the hell are you doing here? Her fellow comedians include Peter Dolan as Snug, the lion, Victoria Szlashta as Snout, the wall,(played Sonya in "Summerfolk") Sean Walsh as Peter Quince, (played Cornelius in "Hello,Dolly" and a comic old man in "Summerfolk") who is supposed to be the director of this comic farce but is constantly interrupted by Bottom and Colin Whitney is a hoot as Francis Flute, the bellows-mender who is dressed in drag as Thisby and also plays Moonshine.(Colin uses a high pitch voice as the woman and has some fast costume changes in this scene.) Sean plays the keyboards in the death scene and the plays hysterical musical passages that keep the crowd in stitches. The young lovers are excellent in their roles. Matt Kilduff as Demetrius,(oversexed and overbearing) Devin Carreiro as Helena, (unrequited love) John Coletta as Lysander(confused and endearing) and Gabrielle Whitney as Hermia(full of righteous indignation) play the young lovers. They shine in their scenes especially while running through the woods. Their physical humor is excellent including pratfalls, fighting with each other, having a sword fight with wooden bats,jumping off chairs as well as throwing each other around and calling Hermia a dwarf as well as several other derogatory names.
Meg Miller plays Egeus, Hermia's strict mother who demands she marry Demetrius or be put to death. Also fantastic are Brendan Hefner as Oberon and Julia Harvey as Titania. His delivery is right on the money, showing his acting depth in this enormous role. (He also did an excellent job in "Summerfolk") She really shines in her scenes, playing them with a light comic touch especially in the falling in love with a jackass scene which elicits many laughs. Alison Russo plays her fairy attendant who waits on her. Also wonderful are Sam Stone, who commands the stage as Theseus, the Duke(Saw him as the doctor in "Summerfolk") and Juliet Demasi as Hippolyta. Another scene stealer is Luke Doyle as mischief maker Puck who throws fairy dust at the lovers to make them fall in love with each other. He does astounding work and steals many a scene with his crazy antics. His athletic skills include balancing himself on the rails in the audience, on various set pieces and he moves around like a whirling dervish. The talented cast is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show.So for an excellent evening of a comic Shakespearean romp be sure to catch "A Midsummer Night's Dream."