Directed by Tamilla Woodard, this production of the Bard’s classic features a diverse cast of actors to tell the tale of Helena and Hermia and Lysander and Demetrius as they embark on a night they’ll never forget, or remember. For a piece that has been done to death, finding innovative ways to present it to new or old audiences can be a tremendous task. What Woodard and Masterworks has going for them is they have assembled a brilliant team of actors to tell this 90-minute version of the comedy. Where it falls flat is the concept, or lack there of. Woodard employs some fantastic individual moments but with no clear overall concept, the cohesion is greatly missing. For the most part, the costumes were the clue into the view. Costume Designer Dustin Cross’s costumes were individually brilliant. From the 40s preppy look for the lovers to the industrial inspired Mechanicals to a Puck who couldn’t be any more 21st century, stringing the looks together was quite difficult. While there could be a period thread to link these together, it all goes to naught when Hermia goes touting around the forest with a modern piece of luggage. It’s quite unfortunate about the lack of solidity as the acting was quite superb.
|photo courtesy of Russ Rowland|
While Woodard wasn’t granted too much play with the set by Raul Abrego, what she did have she used well. Abrego’s set featured four ladders that eventually spun around to serve as intentionally askew trees. They were thin but simple. Lighting designer Joyce Liao used these tree pillars to her advantage, throwing some stunning colors onto the stage.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play that will forever be produced. When you have a great group of actors to tell the story, it proves why audiences love it. But good acting doesn’t make a Shakespeare production stand out. It needs a good vision.