Saturday, October 4, 2008

OSF: A Midsummer Night's Dream

There was more energy in the audience, perhaps by a factor of 10, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of A Midsummer Night's Dream than I recall at any play I've ever attended. Perhaps this was because the crowd included a fair number of teenagers visiting the festival with school groups, and many of them were driven over the edge with giddiness at the sight of leather-and-tutu clad fairies, young lovers prancing around the forest at night in skimpy nighties or underwear, and, curiously, at every appearance of a green-and-orange "flower power" VW microbus. With all the squealing one expected the Beatles or Elvis had entered the building. Add to this a modernistic neon and steel "forest" with pounding techno-pop, disco, and rap that brought to mind "Sprockets" and you had all of the elements for a rocking good time.

A Midsummer Night's Dream delivered. It wasn't a setting that really encouraged great "acting," but the cast had plenty of chances to ham it up and an enormous amount of fun in doing it.

The story is familiar. Lysander and Demetrius both have the hots for Hermia, though Demetrius seems ready to ditch Helena for her. Weisenheimer thinks Demetrius is nuts, as Kjerstine Anderson is a hot redhead who plays Helena with great joy, though she looks a bit silly running around with just one stocking for much of the play. (She has her jammies on, too, you perverts!) Puck and the boys cast spells that don't always work as intended, and a night of mayhem ensues.

Though they're on the outs for much of the play, Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the faries played by Keven Kenerly and Christine Albright, make a smokin' couple. Kenerly as Oberon is featured on the season poster for OSF this year, though my Sweetie says his costume is "goofy." Kenerly has played an interesting range of characters in recent years, from Oberon to Citizen Barlow in last year's Gem of the Ocean to Algernon Moncreif in The Importance of Being Earnest a couple of years back. It was good to see Albright alive and well. We'd seen her play Juliet in a downpour on the outdoor stage late last season, and feared she may have contracted pneumonia.

Director Mark Rucker missed one chance for a great laugh. Whenever the VW microbus rolled onto the stage -- and it was a real, full-sized one -- they should have had smoke pour out every time the doors opened. Maybe when I get to direct that will happen. The bus carried a bunch of hippies who performed their play, Pyramus and Thisbe, at the end, when order was restored and the duke married Hypployta, Hermia married Lysander, and Demetrius tied the knot with Helena. We think. It could all be a dream.

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