There is a magic and mischief in the air in The Old Globe production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, now playing through November 18th around the San Diego community. As a part of the mobile Globe for All program which focuses on bringing theatre into the community; the lovers, fairies, actors, and the forest in this play can one day located in a senior center one day, and a library the next. The one thing that does not change, is that with an excellent and energetic cast, you can make theatre anywhere.
It all starts with a royal wedding of Theseus, the Duke of Athens to Hippolyta, and the former queen of the Amazons. (Doesn’t it feel like this year everything has been about a royal wedding?)
On the day of their wedding a father Egeus (Daniel Ian Joek) brings his daughter Hermia (Nora Carroll) before Theseus (Jake Millgard) because she is in love with Lysander (Jose Martinez) and refuses to marry her Father’s approved choice of groom, Demetrius (Sam Avishay). To thwart plans from keeping them apart, Hermia and Lysander run off into the forest to make way to friendlier relatives who will approve their marriage. Demetrius soon follows in pursuit, but he is in turn followed by Helena (Larica Schnell) who is madly in love with him no matter how much he rebuffs her advances.
Meanwhile, Oberon (Renardo Charles Pringle Jr.), the King of the Fairies is in an argument with his wife, Queen Tatiana (Kimberly Monks) and has come up with a plan to humiliate her in hopes to win an argument between them. By using the juice from a magical flower causing her to fall in love with the first living thing she perceives when she wakes up he feels he can teach her a lesson and win the argument. (Apparently when you’ve been married for eternity you don’t always fight fair)
Oberon sees the mortal couples interplay and feeling sympathy with the unrequited love, orders his mischievous sprite Puck (Samantha Sutliff) to use the flower on the mortals as well. Puck mixes up the mortals, and finds some additional fun messing with a group of actors called “The Mechanicals” who are using the forest as a rehearsal space, which causes even more chaos.
With 9 actors and multiple roles, this is a strong and talented ensemble cast with quick changes, both in costumes and character.
Schnell is excellent as the spirited Helena, and in the production I saw even played a scene with a 2 year old boy who briefly escaped from his mother and wanted to join her in the forest. Carroll brings a determined and not unjustly confused and angry Hermia to stage as well. (Am I the only one who thinks both these characters can do better than who they end up with?)
Martinez and Avishay are both strong as the love sick suitors and as their comedic acting troupe characters. Joek is stern as thwarted father Egeus but delightful as the poor playwright trying to work with these actors. Pringle and Monks are feisty fairy monarchs, who as easily get caught up in this trouble of their own (well Oberon’s) making.
Milgard is wonderfully ridiculous as the narcissistic actor Bottom, the opposite of his more thoughtful royal Theseus. Sutliff is a regal Hippolyta, but really shines as the mischievous Puck who delights in all the chaos and misunderstanding.
Directed by Patricia McGregor, the show is a 90minute one act and keeps the comedy and the pace highly energetic and adaptable. Scenic design by Samantha Rojales is creative and allows for variation based on location without impacting the story. Costumes by Amanda “Junior” Bergman keep everyone in fun and character appropriate clothing, while being suitable for all the quick changes happening required.
As powerful as any of the magic in the play, seeing the audience of all ages react to this show in a space in their community proves that theatre has an impact wherever it is performed.
Globe for All A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM will be presented with free public performances at:
Naval Base San Diego (Navy Region Southwest, Anchors Catering & Conference Center, Main at Yama St., 2375 Recreation Way, Building 3210, San Diego, 92136) on Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m. (open to Navy personnel and family members).
San Diego Military Family Collaborative/Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego’s Serra Real Connections Healthy Start Program
(Junipero Serra High School, 5156 Santo Rd., San Diego, 92124) on Friday, November 16 at 5:45 p.m.
San Diego Public Library – Otay Mesa-Nestor Branch Library (3003 Coronado Ave., San Diego, 92154) on Saturday, November 17 at 12:45 p.m.
The tour culminates with two low-cost public performances on the Globe’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre stage on Sunday, November 18 at 12:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 for subscribers and donors, on sale Friday, October 12 at 12:00 noon; and $15.00 for the general public, on sale Friday, November 2 at 12:00 noon; subject to availability.
Photo Credit: Ken Howard