Review by Danny Gaisin
No pre-arranged tickets; no ‘Reserved -MEDIA’ seat markers; no “ ‘Yea’, the Press is here”; plus two young ladies totally flabbergasted as how to handle a pair of old farts expecting ‘comps’! The evening looked to be a disaster and we had already put our car into the pay parking area. Fortunately, we were rescued and escorted into McMaster’s small theatre to see a staff/student production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is certainly one autumn evening’s DREAM!
Director Peter Cockett; his production team and the students have re-created one of Shakespeare’s truly eternal comedies into something, contemporary… educational, investigative, rational and analytic. Mores, relationships, attitudes and prejudices are all stripped down for exposure. Trans-gendered portrayals are effective and are presented with twists. The sets are creative, novel, fascinatingly effective and exceptionally artistic. Cockett has cast-exeunts and entries oftimes occurring from within the audience giving the viewer a sense of participation. Coupled with the overall effect of sound, projection and light, the result is magical. Presenting the iconic ‘Puck’ as a duo is one of this production’s standouts, Claudia Spadafora & Phillip Krusto’s synchronization and chemistry are thespian perfection.
The two major plot relationships:- Theseus & Hippolyta’s engagement; and the Oberon/Titania negotiation are portrayed by Dan Megaffin and Julie Lane; albeit in role-reversals by scene three. Lane’s projection was a little weak as the Amazon but became forceful and dynamic in her male rendering. Megallin aced both of his readings. The sub-plot affairs of Hermia & Lysander are marvellously interpreted by Nicole Romano who can pratfall with the best of them, and Carissa Kaye who brings just a soupçon of butch to her male representation. The empathetic affection that Helena has for Demetrius is expounded by all six feet of Miles Greenberg in a ridiculous blond wig and virtuous costume. His virginal mien and marvellously paced dialogue- especially with Danny Johnston’s Demetrius, soon have the audience thinking in terms of actual femininity. Johnston is more than adequate but acting opposite the consummate Greenberg’s scene-stealing…he pales.
The always enjoyed play-within-a-play episode by the amateur Athenian artisans is the icing in this Midsummer production. From the producer role of Quince, played by a terrifically overacting Sasha Stevenson to the Bottom role interpreted by Ian Wilush; the thespian sextet is a true ‘hoot’. An immediate evocation of Big Bang’s Sheldon’s notorious senses of superiority and control pervade Wilush’s reading. He interprets Pyramus as a super-hero. His acting counterparts playing the moon; a non-Bert Lahrish– lion, and a separating wall whose interpretation by David Jackson is studiously droll. The intimate moments by Pyramus & Thisbe are mirrored by Jackson with such dramatic facial expressions that verbiage becomes totally redundant. Execution and direction are impeccable. Speaking again about direction: playing Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” pre-curtain is a potently effective addendum.
The Puck-duo observes, ‘What fools these mortals be’. Under Cockett; and all those involved in this Theatre & Film Studies workshop…I can only add “Amen to that!” .Methinks one hast an O.A.R. “TOP TEN” contender herewith!
Midsummer Night’s Dream will be staged until Nov. 16th. Call 905-525-9140, or visit the campus ‘COMPASS’ for tickets. Come and enjoy…but leave the kiddies with a babysitter!!!!