- OnStage New England Critic
Meredith, NH - A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and now playing on the Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage, blends romance and magic with a twist of relevant social commentary on gender and sexuality. Director Timothy L’Ecuyer guided the cast into creating a production that breathed new life into scenes created a few hundred years ago. In doing so, it allowed the audience to more deeply connect to the characters and to further their understanding of how others in our lives can shape our identity and view of humanity. With material that can easily be misconstrued or turned satirical, this well-connected nine person cast delved down to the core of the story and their characters, to present with heartfelt honesty, a play about chance, the intensity of love, identity and humanity.
While the cast overall, should be commended on their work in this production, there were a few that stood out among the rest. Firstly, is Will Champion’s portrayal of mischievous Puck. His red contacts, though devilish, did not add much to his embodiment of the character that was already exemplified by his physicality, facial expressions and devious chuckling. His portrayal of Puck was one of the best I have seen. Rebecca Tucker as Lysandra, love interest to Hermia played by Katrina Michaels, was both strong and caring. The connection and relationship between Lysandra and Hermia was believable and nicely portrayed by both Tucker and Michaels. John-Michael Breen delivered a beautifully truthful portrayal of Helena; whose love interest Demetrius is promised to Hermia. Encompassing a range of emotions, Breen’s Helena is relatable to anyone who has known love. As she is running across the stage in her high heels chasing love, we’re there rooting her on. Nicholas Wilder was undeniably comical as Bottom and was a clear audience favorite. Rounding out the cast are Richard Brundage, Versee Damien, Kevin Killavey and Molly Pietz Walsh.
The simple set, designed by Andrew Stuart, featured two towers with slides, steps and ladders allowing the performers to fully utilize the various levels available to them. The staging by Director L’ Ecuyer compelled the actors to use every bit of the intimate theatre space; both on stage and off. The lighting design by Matthew Guminski included beautifully lit hanging circular plants and a swirling, colorful backdrop that added to the enchanted forest atmosphere.
As with all opening nights there were a few technical difficulties and a few flubbed lines, but overall this production was highly enjoyable. One major highlight was during the mechanicals’ play towards the end of the production. The performers delivered the scene with spot on timing and physical comedy that left the audience unable to control their laughter.
This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will make you laugh, but will also make you think. It plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 16th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Matinees at 2pm on July 7th & 11th. Tickets range from $18-$31. For additional information and tickets visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/