If love triangles and fairy spells interest you, or if you just want one more summer night before fall gets here, Covenant’s Theatre department has the show for you. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is showing this weekend, with shows at 8:00pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as a matinee performance at 2:30pm on Saturday. I got the chance to sit in on a dress rehearsal to get a feel for the show and ask Director Professor Kirby a few questions.
Kirby explained the intent behind the show’s aesthetics, saying “I was interested in bringing a blackbox feel to the show, and letting the acting and costumes provide the color.” The set, indeed, is fairly minimal. A moon hangs in the background, vine-covered ladders accent each side of the stage, and other than a large, ramped platform, the stage is bare. The lighting tends toward blues, purples, and greens with rippling effects. It’s all, well, pretty dreamy. This dreamy aesthetic continues in the costumes. In the fairy scenes, actors wear candy-colored wigs, body paint, and iridescent capes. In the human scenes, the costumes have jewel-tones, exaggerated accents, and modern twists such as massive puffed sleeves and leather wedge boots. One particularly clever costume decision was to dress the two main couples in matching colors--Hermia and Lysander in red and Helena and Demetrius in blue. This both gives a nod to the play’s conclusion and helps the audience keep the couples straight throughout the action.
Acting Shakespeare is no small task, and Professor Kirby explained that most of the cast is either new to Shakespeare, or new to acting altogether. With this in mind, the ensemble truly does an admirable job of bringing life to Shakespeare’s lines, as well as adding clever action, humor, and emotion. The acting highlights of the show are the chemistry of the two couples (due to both talent and great casting by Kirby), and the comedy of the village actors. The area where Kirby really captured the essence of the play is in the blocking. Midsummer is overflowing with humor, and Kirby has the actors flopping all over the stage, sliding down ramps, charging up rickety ladders, prancing about, and chasing each other.
Covenant’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fresh and funny take on the play. Put it on your schedule to see this weekend.