Dathan Hooper, Tony Milder & Tia Davis in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Photo- Matthew Chappell /Kentucky Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Matt Wallace
Review by Rachel White.
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Rachel White. All rights reserved.
Louisville’s annual Shakespeare in Central Park kicks off its new season. The local cast includes the best and brightest of Louisville with a set design by Paul Owen. There is an imaginative and even slightly devilish little edge to this production. For a show done so often it can begin to feel packaged, Wallace and his company capture the wild untamed world of the fairies and the unique world of the play. They take the show to a higher level, they do it with the actors of our community, and they do it professionally and beautifully.
The story begins of course, on the eve of the wedding of Theseus (Dathan Hooper), the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta (Abigail Baily Maupin). There we meet the four Athenian lovers: Hermia (Karina Strange) in love with Lysander (Eric Werner), Demetrius (Madison Neiderhauser) in love with Hermia, and Helena (Maggie Lou Rader) in love with Demetrius. Hermia’s father, Egeus (Kyle Ware), wants Hermia to marry Demetrius on pain of death, so the lovers take off into the forest. These Athenian scenes are paired down and simply designed in both costume and set, perhaps to contrast them with the magical realm to come. It is also worth noting that the Athenian lovers all look essentially the same. The transition from this world into the world of the fairy forest is quite stunning.
The fairies create the sounds of the forest with their own vocalizations as they enter and the park itself becomes a part of the forest landscape, making one feel that the forest extends far beyond the stage. These are not the “Disneyfied” fairies we’re used to, but are the slightly deformed wilder fairies of folklore. They create a forest that is at once playful, exotic, and possibly dangerous. The actors use the isles and the audience to flee from the ass-headed Bottom or to run from one another.
The mechanicals in this production are particularly funny, nearly stealing the show. Gregory Maupin as the hapless Bottom, who brings wonderful physicality to the role, leads the group. The ensemble together makes a great comic team. The play within a play nearly brought the house down from Daniel Hill’s high-pitched, tragical death of Thisbe, to Jeremy Sapp’s roaring lion.
There is also a brilliant girl fight scene between Helena and Hermia and a Puck (Tony Milder), who moves satyr like throughout the production, a warm hearted and carefree spirit, painted white, and lurking among the trees.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
June 11-15, 17-22, July 16, 19, 24, 28, 2014
Free Admission to All Performances
7:15 Pre-show/8:00pm Curtain
C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheatre
1340 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40208