note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
What can you say about another A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM that hasn’t been said before? Most productions of the delightful Shakespeare comedy are charming and this one is, as well, but what’s surprising and impressive is the Hovey Players fresh, cheeky take on the story ---and the attention they pay to text.
Director Michelle Aguillon’s production is over-the-top hilarious but her interpretation of the verse will make you sit up and take notice---which is just what Puck does when he thinks he has a chance for a part in the raucous play within the play. He’s a species “other” than human and he yearns to be mortal. Leigh Berry as Puck literally flies through the air in an extended backflip. Never has a spirit enjoyed merrymaking more, and we her. Berry creates such a glow when she’s wreaking havoc that she put me in mind of Tinker Bell.
Aguillon often illustrates the text literally, as in the savage swordplay by which Theseus wins Hippolyta. The fiery sparks ignited by Chris Cardoni and Melissa Sine (as Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania) are reason enough for nature to be out of balance when the two wage war with each other. No wonder romance is running amok for mere mortals. Michelle Estrada and Grace Sumner are deliciously funny as the two women with the wrong beaux (Evan Bernstein and Brian Busch). Since Shakespeare calls the diminutive Hermia ‘fierce,’ Aguillon treats us to a spitfire so ferocious that the tiny terror will attack everyone in her wake.
The Hovey production is bursting with lovely performances: Claude Del is a powerful warrior sprite in the Oberon/Titania scenes/ Then he portrays one of the dimmer “rough hewn, hard working men” whose daunting task it is to play the delicate Thisbe in the dubious wedding entertainment. It’s a pity the “rude mechanicals” couldn’t stage their “ten word play” a second time, it’s so adorable. Jason Beals is a take-no-prisoners egotist of a Bottom, whose “vexation of a dream” transforms him into an ass. Beals’ Pyramus and Del’s Thisbe are reason alone to see the play.
Hovey regular Eric Houghton makes a stern father to Hermia, then becomes the sweetest lion imaginable. Karen Dervin is an immensely patient Peter Quince and a very stage struck, abashed wall. Michael Soulios, too, is quite amusing as the shiest of moons. John MacKenzie and Michelle Boll’s forest paradise (with silhouetted glen) is so inviting, you’ll want to spend a midsummer night there. The Hovey production plays one more weekend in Waltham, then opens in Hibernian Hall in Roxbury for a two week run.