Anthony J. Piccione
- New York Theatre Critic
I will be honest with you: Reviewing Shakespeare adaptations, as a critic, usually isn’t that exciting for me. That’s not to say that I think they’re bad, but usually, if and when I’m asked to go review one, I tend to focus more on the production and performance aspects, and how that particular production of the same story might be particularly enjoyable to OnStage Blog readers. Very rarely do I find a show adapted from a Shakespearean play that truly blows my mind, and screams “originality”. Yet The Dream Project proved to be a rare example of such a show when I saw it performed at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center in Brooklyn this past Friday.
Presented by Yonder Window Theatre Company, this show is described as a deconstruction and reinvention of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which both theatre and acrobatics, features live music, and combines the languages and cultures of three different countries on the same continent from which the show’s creators come from. The result is a stunning visual experience that leaves the core of the story intact, while still having artistic qualities that would be new to those who have still seen a prior adaptation of Midsummer previously.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Katie McHugh, the play is staged wonderfully, with actors performing in a wide space – both on the ground, and in the air – with the blue lighting and heavy fog, as a mixture of live and electronic ambient music plays, setting a beautifully dark tone. The aerial choreography of Kendall Rileigh is a particular highlight of the show and left audiences applauding mid-show on more than one occasion.
It’s not just the physicality of this performance that impressed me, though. The vivid emotion and conviction of the cast, something which isn’t a given in Shakespearean productions, is something else that I noticed. Consisting of Josephine Cooper, Tamara Geisler, Hugo Luna, Evan Regueira, Maia Ramnath, Kendall Rileigh, Elke Van Dyke, and Evan Tomlinson Weintraub, this is a very strong cast of performers, who impressed me both in terms of their acting and their movement abilities.
While this is technically a version of a very old play that is being presented, it gives one the feeling that it’s a completely original work of art, and that – more than anything else – is what left me impressed with this show. If I have any complaints at all, it’s that its run should have been longer, as it deserves to be seen by more theatergoers. However, given that this is apparently not the first version of The Dream Project to be presented to a live audience, (specifically, this is version “1.5”, as the company describes it) I am hopeful that this won’t be the last time, either. In any case, as someone who has never had the chance to see the work of this theatre company before, it seems that they do some quite bold work, and I do hope to have the chance to review some of their next productions, in the future…
“The Dream Project” – presented by Yonder Window Theatre Company – concluded its run at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center on March 25th. For more information on their future projects, please visit www.yonderwindow.co.