What is a dream but a portal that takes us into the depths of our imagination? Great dreams allow us to reach the highest peaks of our fantasies while nightmares unleash the unconscious anxiety and guilt brewing within us. Friday night’s performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ transported audiences into a fantastical and wondrous universe filled with fairies, magic, Gods and Goddesses.
Director Benjamin Pohlmeier seized the Studio Theatre, located in the Claire Trevor School of Arts, and redesigned it to become a mystical forest filled with woodland sounds and evening mist. Though it was small, the space catered to Pohlmeier’s recreation of this classic play, with a marked intimacy between viewers and actors.
William Shakesphere’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ begins with a complicated web of relationships between Lysander, Hermina, Demetrius and Helena. Like a typical plot from the show ‘Laguna Beach,’ Hermina and Lysander are involved in a forbidden love affair while Helena pines for Demetrius’ affection. Prevented by his admiration for Hermina, she can only avenge herself by plotting ways to foil Hermina and Lysander’s plans to elope. After Demetrius hears of this, he follows them into the woods and Helena trails behind. All four actors performed their parts superbly as they interacted with one another on stage. Helena, performed by Karin Hendricks, shines as a love-sick heroine whose passion for Demetrius evokes sympathy even though her action results in the havoc that comes later in the story.
Another conflict brews between a God and his Goddess, Oberton and Titania. In order to invoke clarity into Titania, Oberton employs a mean trick of deceit by sending his minion, Puck, to hypnotize Titania into falling in love with a mortal named Bottom. With the help of a magical flower, the Goddess falls madly for a ghoulish looking Bottom who was transformed into Puck. Both stories intertwine when Puck accidentally sprinkles the same flower of lust onto Lysander and Demetrius who both wake to fall passionately in love with Helena. Like a good Shakespearian comedy, this explosion of complications beautifully synchronizes itself into a neatly wrapped and decorated present in the end.
One highlight of the show is the faux play within a play. Bottom, acted by Gugun Deep Singh, is simply amazing. He never breaks character throughout every scene and even lies on the floor throughout a whole 15-minute intermission. His character is both the play director and temporary lover of Titana whose part is mainly responsible for moving the momentum of humor along.
Ryan Farnsworth plays Puck with pure talent. He transitions from a dual role as a spiritual and mortal servant with remarkable ease and takes the stage with an in-your-face energy that makes it hard not to become seduced into Puck’s magical allure.
Much like a Bollywood film, this performance features intervals of choreographed dancing catered to the Indian theme of the play. Just as mischief and fighting may appeal to the male audiences, song and dance most definitely thrills the ladies. However, timeless Shakespearean humor universally immerses all into a world that dreams are made of. Perhaps one of the top performances of this year, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ awakens the audience to pure splendor.