T.C. Williams High School A Midsummer Night’s DreamBy Cappies • Feb 4th, 2014 • Category: Cappies
“Lord what fools these mortals be!” As lovers and madmen abound in a forest of mystical trickery, the mayhem of comedic miscommunication and playful revelry take root in T.C. Williams High School’s madcap production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Shakespeare’s classic comedy is no stranger to the theatre world, heralded as one of the most popular works for the stage in all parts of the globe. The bard’s tale centers around two pairs of Athenian lovers, an amateur acting troupe of colorful characters, and their adventures through a mysterious forest filled with magical, but impish fairies. Hermia longs to marry Lysander, much to the disapproval of her father, who has selected another suitor, Demetrius. As the pitiful Helena laments over Demetrius’ unrequited love, fairies attempt to fix the couples’ fiasco through the use of love potions. With a series of mistaken identity slip-ups and pranks on the eccentric acting troupe, the fairies’ plans go awry, producing rather entertaining results.
Student director Isabel Hollins conquered the full-length show impressively, creating a series of unique staging moments and utilizing the set in many visually pleasing ways. With the simple sliding of a few flats, each scene transition gradually revealed more and more of the enthralling stage environment, eventually whisking audiences away into a luminous, surreal forest landscape.
The four lovers connected believably with each other and portrayed conflicts tactfully. Stephanie Slaven-Ruffing (Hermia) delivered a more modern twist on the rebellious young maiden, while Rebecca Frank (Helena) established a self-pitying character in desperation for companionship. Both Ian McClary (Lysander) and Peter Eckel (Demetrius) exuded a charming, jocular sense of teenage love. As the story’s narrator and head fairy cohort, Eliza Malakoff as Puck kept the show moving along with unwavering energy, playfully flittering all around the stage with fluid physicality, her vocal inflections always signaling a sense of scheming mischief.
The entire Mechanicals acting troupe tipped their hat to actors everywhere, presenting a comedic, stereotypical exaggeration of the craft, filled with a gamut of melodramatic line delivery and comically monotone understatements. Especially notable was Sam Hanoura as Nick Bottom, whose booming voice, sweeping hand gestures, and pompous portrayal created an infectious role. Though there were some articulation and language issues, they did not detract heavily from the performance.
Meticulously painted flats, flowery botanical shrubs, and a uniquely slanted platform surface were only a few of the many fascinating technical elements. While some costumes seemed slightly out of the time period, each piece brought a sense of colorful vibrancy that coordinated well with the creative set. In keeping with original stage directions, the use of a large donkey head proved to be no difficulty. The actor wearing the well-made prop could still articulate and project clearly.
Handling the difficult Shakespearean language admirably, the cast and crew successfully managed to highlight several humorous moments, from mistaken identities to playful practical jokes, convincing us all to remain thankful that “the course of true love never did run smooth.”
by Jamie Joeyen-Waldorf of Langley High School
Photos by Pat Bayly Smith
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