Let’s Review: ‘Midsummer’ silliness enchants at The Old Globe
By Diana Saenger
The perfect synergy comes together under a beautiful San Diego summer night sky with The Old Globe’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre and a charming production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The minimal set instantly transports viewers to a magical forest outside of Athens, where fairies with magical powers scamper about looking for hapless victims.
Shakespeare’s “Midsummer” has taken on many interpretations in its four centuries of theatrical success. The gift that Old Globe artisans and performers bring to the show is pure joy and non-stop surprise.
The heart of the plot rarely wavers. It begins with the announcement of marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus (Jay Whittaker), and Hippolyta (Krystel Lucas). But there’s other business Theseus must address when he has to intrude on Egeus’ (Sherman Howard) family crisis. He insists his daughter Hermia (Winslow Corbett) marry Demetrius (Nic Few) instead of her true love, Lysander (Adam Gerber).
Theseus reminds Hermia that, by law, her refusal to obey her father is punishable by death. The story then takes on several new elements, like lovers promised tothose they do not love, as well as mischievous actions by the forest fairies per instructions from their king, Oberon (also Jay Whittaker). He’s having some domestic problems of his own with his queen, Titania (also Krystel Lucas), and beckons his court jester Puck (Lucas Hall) to give him a hand, which Puck turns into an underhanded scheme.
Following this tale is second nature to just keeping an on eye on the stage while enjoying this incredibly talented cast. Whittaker is astounding in his dual roles as King of the Fairies and the Duke of Athens. With help from the amazing Globe makeup department, it’s captivating to watch his command of every scene he’s in.
Thanks to Ian Talbot’s incredible direction, the cast is excellent, and so many are perfect in their roles. Lucas is regal and fluid as both Hippolyta and Titania. Corbett brings many laughs in her distress and merrier moments — as does Ryman Sneed as Helena while she works to snag Demetrius.
Hall has exciting energy in the role of Puck, both when he’s obeying Oberon’s commands and when getting them slightly mixed up. Few and Gerber balance their mixed affections for two different women like a well-played ping pong game.
Laughs are sprinkled throughout, and a lot of them are attributed to Peter Quince (Charles Janasz) and his band of laborers, which include Bottom (Miles Anderson), Snug (John Lavelle), Snout (Triney Sandoval), and Flute (Sean-Michael Wilkinson). The group is so outrageously funny they could have appeared in the Marx Brothers’ comedies as they rehearse to perform their play, “Pyramus and Thisbe,” for Theseus’ wedding. Anderson wonderfully takes Bottom through endless singing, dancing and rollicking antics that keep the audience in stitches.
This production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is flawlessly entertaining. Talbot, who directed the play six times at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, said because of things like the magic and the 12 fairies, it’s the perfect vehicle for introducing children, as young as age 5, to the world of Shakespeare.
If you go
■ What: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’part of the 2013 Shakespeare Festival
■ When: Now-Sept. 29
■ Where: The Old Globe’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
■ Tickets: From $29
■ Phone: (619) 234-5623