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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Oak Park Festival Theater


There’s all the time one thing particular about watching “A Midsummer Evening’s Dream” carry out outdoor, and attending the Oak Park Pageant Theater this previous weekend was no exception. The tree-lined setting beneath a transparent night time sky is the closest you will discover to Shakespeare’s most well-known arboreal play you will discover within the suburbs. Positive, some trendy residences regarded over my shoulder, however after a turbulent July with hurricanes, flooding and smoky skies, I used to be very happy to choose the spongy turf on a 70 diploma night.

This manufacturing is led by the theater’s inventive director, Peter G. Andersen, and he makes fascinating decisions about gender and sexuality that I’ve by no means seen in every other Midsummer. Whereas altering little or no of the textual content, Andersen transforms most of the key relationships in a play written greater than 400 years in the past, shaking up energy dynamics and exploring advanced layers.

“Midsummer” is about 4 younger individuals whose relationship issues drag them into an enchanted forest to flee the inflexible confines of Athens the place they stay. Hermia (Rachel J. Jones) and Lysander (Taylor Dalton) love one another, however Hermia is on the verge of compelled marriage to Demetrius (performed by her backup Noah Lash within the efficiency I noticed). Helena (Lucas Prizant) continues to be in love along with his ex-girlfriend, Demetrius, who now belittles her in favor of Hermia. When Hermia and Lysander flee into the woods to flee, Demetrius follows Hermia and Helena follows Demetrius.

Andersen selected the lovers as odd {couples} – Hermia and Lysander are performed by ladies, and Demetrius and Helena are performed by males. The pronouns keep as they seem within the textual content (Lysander continues to be “he” and Helena is “he”), which undermines the casting a bit, however it’s straightforward sufficient to comply with as soon as your ears get used to the language. The heartache of forbidden love, expressed in Lysander’s well-known line, “The course of real love by no means went easily,” deepens on this state of affairs.

After they arrive within the forest, these 4 develop into embroiled in a feud between the fairy king and queen, Oberon (Aaron Latterell) and Titania (Sonia Goldberg). Andersen is working towards a distinct form of gender swapping right here: the roles of Oberon and Titania are merely reversed. On this model, Titania – together with the mischievous Puck (Will Wilhelm) – is the one who makes use of a magical flower to make Oberon fall in love with an anthropomorphic donkey, by chance forcing Lysander to cross on his like to Helena.

Haven Crawley, Molly Brennan and Mark Lancaster "a midsummer night's dream" By Oak Park Festival Theatre.

Giving the sting over Titania, this manufacturing’s double forged of Athenians and fairies is extra satisfying. Andersen follows the frequent observe that actors enjoying Oberon and Titania additionally play Theseus, Duke of Athens, who condemns Hermia to an undesirable marriage, and his fiancée, Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen. Within the making of Oak Park, Hippolyta has none of Hippolyta’s when Theseus decides that Hermia should marry Demetrius or select between a monastery and demise; Because the queen leaves the stage, she turns her husband-to-be over. Later, the fairy stuntman forces the duke’s supernatural counterpart, Oberon, to style his personal drugs. he to a non-consensual match. Certainly, the subtitle of this model must be “Titania’s Revenge”.

When all the pieces lastly works out and the younger Athenians return to their old flame, Demetrius compares his momentary ardour for Hermia to an sickness that causes Helena to “hate this dish” out of affection. “However as in well being, come to my pure delight, / Now I want him, I really like, I miss / And I will probably be perpetually devoted,” she says. Given the gender-swapped forged, these phrases made extra of an influence than standard as queer {couples} reunited. Demetrius could also be a hard-to-root character who comes off as fickle and heartless, however I’ve heard multiple “aw” from the viewers proper now.

In a comedy subplot, a gaggle of inept beginner actors (Molly Brennan, Chad Bay, Haven Janeil Crawley, and Mark Lancaster) rehearse a play for the duke’s wedding ceremony. Brennan performs Nick Backside, the overzealous actor who needs to play any half, with a cool seriousness that will get a number of laughs. Though I’ve seen extra salacious and extra ridiculous variations of their scenes, this group has a number of enjoyable with the viewers by together with the front-rowers a number of instances within the motion.

As nightfall falls on the theater venue in Austin Gardens, this manufacturing takes on an more and more elegant look. Through the break, paper lanterns are lit (lighting by Devin Cameron) and trendy costumes (by Janelle Smith) shift from whites and earth tones in Athens to a vibrant colour palette within the jungle, leading to attractive attire and fits in trios. wedding ceremony finale. We could also be previous midsummer on the calendar, however there’s nonetheless some Shakespearean magic to savor the outside earlier than the season ends.

Emily McClanathan is an unbiased critic.

Overview: “A Midsummer Evening’s Dream” (3 stars)

When: by August 19

The place: Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave., Oak Park

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Tickets: $38 (free for kids beneath 12) at 708-300-9396 or oakparkfestival.com


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