Monday, April 27, 2015
LOVE RUNS MERRILY AMOK IN THE FOREST OF ARDEN
If Cupid had a mischievous twin brother, his name might be Puck. While the former is busy shooting off arrows of affection, the latter indulges in placing eye drops of purple passion flowers that cause mismatched lovers to become inappropriate pairings. For William Shakespeare, who believes "all's fair in love and war," the chance to play matchmaker is too delicious not to indulge in with crazy and comical results.
On the Summer Soltice, known for being long and hot by day and short and warm by night, causing "midsummer madness," the Bard has created his most popular comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Until Sunday, May 3, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut will take you delightfully into Arden Forest, moved to circa 1905, in Europe.
Triangles of romance abound. Hermia (Juliana Bears) loves Lysander (Michael Bobenhausen) and vice versa, but Demetrius (Bryce Wood) also has cast his affections upon her. To complicate matters, Hermia's father Egeus (Derrick Holmes) forbids her to wed any suitor but Demetrius, with the pain of death or exile to a nunnery if she disobeys. The Duke (Kent Coleman) who is himself about to marry Hippolyta (Susannah Resnikoff) decrees Hermia must obey her father.
The fair Helena (Arlene Bozich) is facing a similar problem: she loves Demetrius, in vain. When she hears her friend Hermia is running away from Athens to the forest to secretly wed Lysander, Helena determines to follow. Meanwhile an amateur troupe of actors, including carpenters, weavers and tailors, is busy practicing a play to entertain at the wedding of the Duke. Led by Quince (John Manning Jr), he rehearses his men (Jeff DeSisto, Joon Ho Oh, Brian Patrick Sullivan and Sam Kebede) and the play's hero, Nick Bottom (Michael Patrick Kane).
When Puck (Gabriel Apres, Conor Donnally, Scott Redmond), a trio of acrobatic and wily fairies, goes wild with dousing eyelids with potions of love, at the insistence of Oberon the King of the Fairies (Curtis Longfellow), the results are comical and farcical. Oberon is having problems of his own, love-wise, with his Queen Titania (Natalia Cuevas), and he plots to have her awaken, after her eyelids have been doused, so the first person she sees is Nick Bottom, who has been transformed into a donkey.
The physical comedy on stage is wonderfully wild: think The Three Stooges Meet Lucy and Desi. Fairies are plentiful, in magical array, flitting hither and yon. The costume department, led by Pat Ubaldi-Nurnberger, performs double duty as many of the creations, put together with snap tape, have to be resewn after every performance. The extreme physicality causes †he costumes to literally fall apart. Dale AJ Rose directs this merry mixup of mismatched mates with a clever hand, on a set designed by Luke Miller and Abigail Copeland, one perfect for uphill and downhill chases.
For tickets ($7-30), call the CT Rep Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Jorgensen Theatre. The ticket box office is at the Nafe Katter Theatre on Bolton Road.
Let yourself be sprinkled with fairy dust and enjoy all the complications and complexities as lovers run off into the forest, unaware that wild and crazy things can happen there...even if none of them are lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Actually there is a lion, but he's harmless.