Scott Coopwood as Oberon, King of the Fairies and Cat Thompson as Titania, Queen of the Fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Marin Shakespeare.
Director Robert Currier transports the action of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the magical shores of mystical Hawaii under the gaze of the Tiki Gods which were created by Sculptor Antonio Echeverria. Made out of wood and foam, these gods flank the Hawaiian set designed by Mark Robinson. The scent of hibiscus and twang of ukuleles permeate Shakespeare’s story. The Hawaiian music is the creation of the Sound Designer and Composer, Billie Cox. This is all to get us in the mood before the play begins.
When we enter this slightly fantastical version of contemporary Hawaii, we encounter several beautiful girls in Hawaiian costumes with leis around their necks dancing the hula. While this is going on, an American tourist takes their picture. This is followed by three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens (Damien Seperi) and the Amazon Queen Hippolyta (Sylvia Burboeck) and set simultaneously in the woodland and the realm of Fairyland under the light of the moon.
In the first plot, that of the real world, we meet Helena (Luisa Frasconi) who loves Demetrius (Evan Bartz) who is infatuated and wishes to marry Hermia (Jessica Salans) who loves Lysander (Brandon Mears). Hermia’s father Egeus (Jack Halton) appeals to ruler Theseus to force Hermia to marry Demetrius. Then the star crossed lovers run away and enter the realm of Fairyland.
In the second plot, a group of working men led by Peter Quince (Stephen Muterspaugh) have gathered to prepare a play to perform for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. Nick Bottom (Jarion Monroe), a weaver, quickly establishes himself as the star actor of the group. Francis Flute (Alexander Lenarsky) is not excited to be cast as Bottom’s love interest. Regardless, the group agrees to meet the next night in the wood to rehearse; the play will be the ill-fated love story of Pyramus Thisbe.
The third plot involves the King and Queen of the Fairies, Oberon (Scott Coopwood) and Titania (Cat Thompson) who are in a heated debate. Their dispute has disturbed their fairy followers including Oberon’s henchman, the impish Puck (James Hiser), who screws everything up with a magic potion. Oberon is costumed by Tammy Berlin as a Polynesian God of War who in times of peace becomes the God of Fine Arts; he fights when necessary and dances when the fighting is done.
Bringing fresh takes to their roles are Jessica Salans as the pushy and feisty Hermia, Luisa Frasconi as the sexy and pouty Helena and the laugh out loud antics of Jarion Monroe as Bottom. Dressed in bright red, Cat Thompson makes a beautiful and graceful Titania and James Hiser as Puck, Oberon’s right hand man, carries the show.
Director Robert Currier has employed excessive physical action to garner laughs, and the young lovers do great justice to Currier’s use of physicality. Speaking of laugher, special mention should be made of Alexander Lenarsky’s portrayal of Thisbe, the leading lady when the play of the workmen is actually presented at the end of the show.
This modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream might make the strict, Shakespeare purist squirm a little but these additions definitely help to add context to the language by keeping things interesting and adding a modern spin.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at Marin Shakepeare Company, July 28-September 30, 2012. Performances are held at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, 890 Belle Avenue, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA. For tickets, call the box office at 415-499-4488 or go online at www.marinshakespeare.org.
Coming up next at Marin Shakespeare will be The Liar, by David Ives, adapted from the farce by Pierre Corneille, directed by Robert Currier and opening August 25, 2012 through September 23, 2012.
Flora Lynn Isaacson