The Southern California Shakespeare Festival’s presentation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was presented in such an untraditional style that it had Shakespeare rolling over in his grave.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was set in Athens, Greece, focusing on the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta.
The play began with Egeus seeking counsel from Theseus because his daughter, Hermia, refused to marry Demetrius, the man Egeus had chosen for her.
Instead, Hermia wished to marry a man named Lysander.
Hermia and Lysander conspired and agreed to meet in the forest so they could elope.
Hermia told her friend Helena, who is in love with Demetrius, of her and Lysander’s plan, and in an attempt to earn Demetrius’ love, Helena told Demetrius of the lovers’ plan.
Meanwhile in the forest, Titania and Oberon, rulers of the fairies, were estranged because Titania refused to hand over her changeling boy to Oberon.
Oberon then ordered his henchman, Puck, to cast a spell on Titania.
The spell forced her to fall in love with the first living thing she laid her eyes upon, which so happened to be Bottom, one of the mechanicals who was rehearsing a play to perform at Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding.
Puck decided to have some extra fun with the love spell and entranced Lysander and Demetrius, which made them fall in love with Helena.
Chaos ensued and it was up to Puck to make sure everything seemed like it was merely a dream.
Bottom, played by William Robert Dinwiddie, was the star of the show.
His comedic timing, body movement and stage presence surpassed his co-stars and delighted the audience.
He was not afraid to utilize his body to maximize his performance on stage, which shows that he is a seasoned actor.
When the lead characters began their performance, they seemed nervous and reserved, and they did not deliver their lines with emotion.
However, as the show continued, their nerves seemed to be put at ease and their acting became convincing.
The fairies’ performance evoked awkward laughter from the audience.
Throughout the show, they recited their lines like they were reading out of a book, and they struck unnatural poses throughout their performance.
At one point, a fairy forgot her line during a song and they all broke character and began laughing.
Puck, played by Job Barnett, and Oberon, played by Annie Dennis, were the dynamic duo of the show.
Although a woman played Oberon, she fulfilled the role and played off her counterpart, Puck, very well.
The two consistently had the audience laughing while discussing their plot to bewitch Titania.
The show was a rather unusual rendition of Shakespeare’s classic.
Women played the parts of the lead male characters, which is ironic because males used to play the female parts during Shakespeare’s era.
It is uncertain if this casting was done purposefully to mock the original casting.
Shakespeare’s play is traditionally performed in a classical, almost poetic manner, but the Southern California Shakespeare Festival production delivered the show in a more modern manner.
The lines were recited in choppy sentences, and the female leads did not portray their characters in a ladylike manner.
In the casts’ defense, Shakespeare’s shows are the most difficult to take on.
At the same time, community theater should have higher standards for their actors.
To say the least, the audience probably wished that what they had witnessed was nothing more than a dream.
Liz Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.