Standing Ovation for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Syracuse Stage Last Night
One of Shakespeare’s raciest and wildest comedies is also one of the most difficult to stage as it rapidly moves from reality, to fantasy to dream and has several actors playing multiple characters. The director’s take always infuses the play with his or her own sensibilities and often this includes some kind of modernization in the acting, set, costumes, and sound design. Here director Bill Fennelly and scenic designer Andrew Boyce at one point decorate the set with huge puff balls that resemble facial cleansing balls a woman would use to remove make-up. They create a sort of colorful fantasy garden for the lovers to frolic in. I liked the set design a lot and felt the core design was both practical and artful as it balanced fantasy and the earthiness of a garden.
Fennelly for the most part has cast the play well. A few of the younger actors could use more Shakespearian training. A few times their enunciation isn’t crisp and this coupled with average projection occasionally made understanding of Elizabethan language difficult. However for the most part everyone has their thous and thuses in check.
Best of the young lovers is Rachel Towne who plays Helena. She has great stage presence and fantastic energy. She moves effortlessly without ever being bogged down by the heavy language. Oberon, played by Lindsay Stalling is great. He combines a magnificent presence with perfectly pronounced language. He is always understandable no matter how excited his character becomes.
Special Kudos to costumer designer Jessica Ford, she often makes bold choices that mix Elizabethan garments and modern lines and colors. She has a knack for knowing when traditional is the best choice and when it is not. Often she goes against expectation with color adding layers to the meaning to a scene by using contrast.
Midsummer’s Night Dream is rousing entertainment.