The Citadel never disappoints. I was sceptical about this play at the beginning, since Shakespeare and I have a love-hate relationship (as in I love the plays but hate not understanding them!). I will say that for the most part, I was able to fully understand the dialogue, so I wouldn’t discourage anyone who has a similar problem from visiting the Citadel for this dreamy play.
In case you haven’t heard of this play before, the story is about a love… square. Helena (Shannon Taylor) is deeply in love with Demetrius (Patrick Lundeen), but is broken hearted due to his rejection—Demetrius is in love with Hermia (Rose Napoli) and wishes to marry her. The drama doesn’t end there, as Hermia and Lysander (Eric Morin) are deeply in love. Hermia’s father (Egeus, played by Doug Mertz), however, has already promised Hermia to Demetrius, and upon hearing of her daughter’s resistance to the marriage, he goes to King Theseus (Marc R. Bondy) looking for guidance. Bur when King Theseus decides that Hermia must choose between marriage, celibacy, or death, Lysander and Hermia agree to run away to get married, and travel into the woods where the fairies—and Puck (Jonathan Purvis)—cause a mayhem for one midsummer night.
The play begins slowly, and it’s quite long (around 2.5 hours), but is worth every minute. Though there are many parts that may at first seem expendable, at the end of the play you’ll leave with a sense of perfection, and you’ll be glad those “extra” parts where included—I’m not being overenthusiastic here, as the last 30-40 minutes of the play are of pure laughs. Director Tom Wood, who I had the pleasure to see as a performer in The Three Musketeers (also at the Citadel), did a magnificent job with this play. There didn’t seem to be a single character out of place, or a scene that didn’t flow. Not only did the actors moved around in an engaging way on the wonderfully decorated stage (Bretta Gerecke really knows how to make you feel as if you were in the middle of an enchanted forest), but they also reflected the sentiment of their characters to the point where everything in their movements matched the story perfectly.
All of the performers did an excellent job, but I would like to mention Julien Arnold (Bottom/Pyramus) and his over-enthusiastic (as it should be!) performance, and Shannon Taylor, who gave a wonderful performance of fun ‘crazy-for-love’ Helena. Jonathan Purvis (Puck) also was splendid in his performance as the mischievous servant of Oberon (Michael Antonakos), and the acrobatics of Purvis gave the play an extra magical touch. My favourite scene was probably when the four lovers are reunited in the forest; seeing Patrick Lundeen (Demetrius), Eric Morin (Lysander), Rose Napoli (Hermia), and Shannon Taylor (Helena) fighting for each other’s love the middle of the woods was hilarious.
A Midsummer Night’s dream will definitely leave you with a smile, it’s a very worthy production and I am really impressed with the work that everyone involved in the production did—from the unexpected appearance and disappearances of Puck, to the acrobats and fighting scenes, to the playception (yes, another one this month! it looks like plays about the Greek have a tacit rule that dictates there must be another play developing—as this setting is in Athens—or maybe it’s just a coincidence).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be playing at the Citadel until April 29.