© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Capital Rep, funny and inventive

Ethan Botwick, Chauncy Thomas, Yvonne Perry and David Girard in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Doug Liebig/OEProPhoto
Cap Rep
Ethan Botwick, Chauncy Thomas, Yvonne Perry and David Girard

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing at Capital Repertory Theatre through May 7, is proof that no one should be misled into thinking the plays of William Shakespeare are not accessible to all. Indeed, this might be the perfect production with which to introduce a young or older person the fun of live theater.

This is a frothy comic production that captures Shakespeare’s love of low comedy and his gift of creating beautiful language. The costumes by Sera Bourgeau are eclectic and visually appealing. The acting is controlled raucous, but the story (rather stories) are truly funny, but often surprisingly human. The acting is individually great and ensemble-perfect.

Throughout the play, Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill’s bold, confident direction adds freshness and a sense of the contemporary to the work. Combined with many inventive comic acting choices, this is a fresh look at a very familiar piece of theater.

The production moves swiftly - at least it does after the slow opening moments that set the situation. Which is: two young men each want to marry Hermia. Hermia is in love with Lysander and she cares little for his rival Demetrius. However, Hermia’s best friend Helena is madly in love with Demetrius.

After Hermia’s father uses an archaic law that says she must obey his wishes and marry Demetrius or die, the four flee into the woods.

Thanks to an application error of a magic potion, the two men both fall madly in love with Helena - which doesn’t make Hermia very happy. Surprisingly, neither does it please Helena, who thinks they are all poking fun at her.

This, by the way, is the tip of the madcap iceberg. Similarly, the married rulers of the Fairy Kingdom, Titania and Oberon, have their own conflicts. Their human counterparts are Theseus, the Duke of Athens and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, who like any soon-to-be married couple, also have their issues.

This production has so many elements it’s really a mish-mosh of several stories combined that make a unified whole.

Another of those stories is the tale of six tradesmen, termed the Rude Mechanicals, who produce their own original play. If their talent matched their ambitions, they would have been the 1595 recipients of the Tony Award.

Led by a phenomenal comic performance by Oliver Wadsworth as the overeager Bottom, the group milk all the comedy in the situation. Best of all, the other Mechanicals, Kevin McGuire, John Romeo, David Girard, Taylor Hoffman and Jovan Davis, create unique and real people with hardly any dialogue of their own

The group of actors is also valuable as they garner more laughs while playing magical fairies. They have help from Freddie Ramirez, whose choreography adds energy to the very special dance scenes which usually involve the entire cast. Those moments are helped enormously by lighting designer Shelby Loera.

Back to the acting. Yvonne Perry uses a stately manner to portray an independent Hippolyta. She shows the same confidence as Titania but adds a wink and a nod style of humor to her interpretation.

Chauncy Thomas is intensely noble as Theseus. He adds a touch of fey to make Oberon, the King of the Fairies, still regal but less pompous.

As for the young couples, all offer earnest and energetic performances that add delightful silliness to the production.

A delightfully charming Raya Malcolm plays Hermia with infectious charm. Ellen Cribbs is her equal as determined Helena. The pair of women dominate the group as their frustrations drive the humor of the situation.

However, the men are good as well. Ethan Botwick as Lysander and his rival Tamil Periasamy as Demetrius add some intense physical comedy to their fight scenes, which are nicely staged by David Girard.

Easily overlooked are the worker bees of the production Joshua De Marco and Gabrielle Baznit Douglas. They play fairies, statues, dancers. They are critical to the play’s swift pacing as in character they move the efficient set pieces designed by Brian Prather.

Last but far, far from least is the marvelous interpretation of Puck by Kyle Garvin. In his third appearance at Capital Rep this year, Garvin brings a delightful charm to the mischievous sprite who starts and keeps the comic ball rolling.

His delight in adding to everyone’s less-than-tragic problems are the heartbeat of the play. When he utters the famous line, “What fools these mortals be,” you can see every head in the audience nodding in laughing agreement.

Don’t be one of those fools by missing this entertaining production that continues downtown Albany through May 7. For schedule and tickets go to capitalrep.org or call 518-346-6204.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

Related Content