A midsummer night’s heat wave
Ohio Shakespeare Festival offers entertaining show at Stan Hywet
|Titania (Lara Knox) is shown at center with her fairies in Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.|
|Photo: Scott Custer|
William Shakespeare (1554-1616) wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in about 1598 for specific performers. Since Shakespeare’s era, directors have struggled to find the right cast for the script. Terry Burgler (director) found most of the correct performers for this comedy, but he fought an uphill battle with the costumes, hair design and makeup.
The costumes detracted from the characters and the plot. Some of the women looked like Wonder Woman, with slicked-back hair and short gowns. Some of the men wore prettier gowns than the women.
Puck (Dylan White) may have more stage time than any other character. A high school senior, White is excellent as Puck. He is up to the vocal and physical challenges of the role.
Bernard Bygott, who plays Oberon, has extensive theatrical experience and indicates the quality of the performers we may hope to see in the Ohio Shakespeare Festival.
Shakespeare divided the characters into three groups: royalty, fairies and workmen (or low characters).
The royalty and high characters play their roles without a glimmer of humor. Yet, when they do something funny, they’re not aware of their humor and, of course, that makes the humor all the funnier.
The fairies in this production seem to move in dance patterns. The program doesn’t credit anyone with choreography, so I assume the director choreographed the fairy characters.
The low characters, the workmen, stole the show. In their section of the story, the six workmen are to present a play for the entertainment of the Duke of Athens and the queen of the Amazons. Peter Quince (Timothy Champion) is the director of this short skit. He has many of the theatrical personality types in his cast — giant egos, people who want to take over his directing duties and others who are terrified of facing an audience.
Nick Bottom (Ernie Gonzalez) would like to play all of the characters and direct, too. Gonzalez is excellent as Pyramus, the frustrated lover of Thisby. Their story has some of the foreshadowing of “Romeo and Juliet.” When Pyramus finally gets to the moment of killing himself, he stretches that moment until the audience cheered and applauded his over-the-top acting.
Francis Flute (Benjamin Fortin) plays Thisby, a female character in love with Pyramus. The two lovers meet at a wall (played by Henry Bishop). The lovers talk through a chink in Wall or, in Shakespeare’s vision, through Wall’s open fingers. If this seems utter nonsense, remember this is the playwright who created Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and others.
This production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is perfect for the blazing hot summer we’re having. Take a cooler filled with bottles of water to your seat and, as the night wears on, the breezes across the lagoon will make all comfortable (well, almost).
The performance with intermission runs about two-and-a-half hours. This is a quality production that should be popular with high school students who need to study Shakespeare and for their teachers and parents who need to brush up on their Shakespeare.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” continues through July 22. For ticket information, call 330-315-3287.
David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
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