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October 28, 2013
Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Credit from Left to Right Emily Trask, Laura Frye, Gregory Isaac, Ryan Lee, and Alexis Black
Credit from Left to Right
Emily Trask, Laura Frye, Gregory Isaac, Ryan Lee, and Alexis Black Photo Credit:Chassi Annexy

When a great play is over 400 years old, it is bound to have undergone a variety of unusual presentations and treatments.  The Titan Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, directed by Lenny Banovez, can deservedly claim its place among the most surprising and successful in the history of the Shakespearean stage.

Before the play begins, the cast assembles on stage and after each actor is introduced, Puck (wonderfully played by Mathew Foster) asks a member of the audience to draw from a hat the name of the character which that actor will play that night.   No actor knows which role he or she will play each night until it is picked out of the hat.  In other words, every actor has to know every part.

Gimmick?  Not at all!  Every actor plays his/her part as if he/she were born to play it.  In fact, the production’s great success is obviously due to the cast’s experience and love of the material -- in the hands of lesser actors, this lottery could easily turn into a game of Russian roulette.  This, though, is a team of seasoned players, and the element of the unknown seems to energize the performers and galvanize their performances.  It is impossible to find fault with a single performance.

Although one gets the distinct impression that this juggling of roles would fail completely if the play were “King Lear” or “Hamlet”, both of which require intense emotional preparation on the part of the central roles, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the perfect vehicle for this theatrical version of musical chairs.  In addition to introducing the element of surprise, this character lottery also introduces the opportunity to highlight the sexual ambiguity that is present in the text (and about which much has been written).  There are three women and six men in the production.  Statistically, there is bound to be interesting interplay, and the actors capitalize on the romantic permutations with zest and honesty.  Banovez’s production is a joy, as any production of "Midsummer" should be.

Performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" continue through November 3rd.  Check out our full event listing here:

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Written by: Al Pesant
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