One of Shakespeare’s most legendary plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also packed with so many plots and characters that it can be a challenge to keep up with it all.
Happily, the Classic Theatre’s new production, under the fine direction of Joe Goscinski, keeps this ship sailing smoothly.
The plot revolves around four groups of characters. Duke Theseus of Athens is going to marry the Amazon queen Hippolyta. Young Hermia is in love with Lysander, despite the fact that her father, Egeus, has promised her hand in marriage to Demetrius. Meanwhile, Hermia’s best friend, Helena, longs for Demetrius, who broke up with her to pursue Hermia.
Feuding woodland fairies Oberon and Titania arrive to plot some magical mischief against the mortals, and Oberon’s faithful servant, Puck, is more than happy to assist. Their fairy minions also appear, and a traveling acting troupe is thrown in for good measure.
They all converge upon the wood for one of the playwright’s most humorous and hectic works of spurned love, mistaken identity, revenge (albeit mild, unlike some of his other works) and redemption. As the title implies, the play is quite dreamlike and contains some of the most beautiful passages he’d ever written.
The show is well-cast, and all of the performers deliver Shakespeare’s florid poetry with feeling. Many of the actors have been cast in dual roles, most notably Sam Mandelbaum as Theseus/Oberon and Carolyn Delinger as Hippolyta/Titania. Jordon Acker, Kacey Roye, Tyler Smith and Hunter Wulff are appealing as the quartet of lovestruck youths. Comic highlights are provided by Maggie Tonra’s high-energy portrayal of Puck and John Stillwaggon’s sublimely hammy Bottom, a character who literally becomes an ass.
This Classic production is a master class in how to evoke mood and atmosphere with minimal staging. The set by Jodi Karjala and the lighting design by Tim Francis bring the magical woodland environment to life. Also adding to the atmosphere is John Coker’s excellent music and sound design. Karjala also designed the attractive costuming, dressing the mortals in contemporary clothing and the fairies in more mystical garb, which I found to be a clever, visual way to help keep the characters organized.
Those who are familiar with Shakespeare’s works will find much to relish here, and neophytes will be spellbound by the attractive production. A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through Sept. 30 at The Classic Theatre of San Antonio, 1924 Fredericksburg Road. Tickets are available online or by calling (210) 589-8450.
Feature photo: Tyler Smith, Jordon Acker, Kacey Roye and Hunter Wulff. Photos by Siggi Ragnar.