Talented teen cast ventures into Shakespeare
An Italianate story in which the course of true love never did run smooth makes for mirth, merriment and mayhem in Venture Theaters engaging production of A Midsummer Nights Dream.
Venture sprinkles its own blend of magic on this time-honored comedy, running two more weekends.
The story is set in a 1970s disco and pays homage to music and stars from the 50s and 60s. Cher hair, skin-tight clothes, paisley and even a white dinner jacket appear on a bounty of precocious high school talent from throughout the region.
The rendering just might have made the bard smile.
Mace Archer directs the action which features one of Shakespeares most complicated blendings of elements. No less than four plots are in progress and Ventures treatment pays homage to Shakespeares skill in plot manipulation.
So pull up a chair to one of the disco tables and let the magic take you away. These players dress the stage, using the building for all its worth from the windows to the upper landing to the garage door, which opens and closes to let in the action. The players work the audience and wander through the house. You may find a player under your table.
Those who know the play recall that Oberon and Titania are king and queen of the fairies. Demetrius loves Hermia, and so does Lysander. And poor Helena is forsaken. But by magic and mistake, Lysander is tampered with. Then Demetrius loves Hermia and Lysander loves Helena. Or do they? Demetrius and Lysander love Helena, and Hermia is forsaken. Oh, well, finally, in Pucks words, Jack shall have Jill;/ Nought shall go ill. Youll just have a good time.
Throw in a poke at rustic drama with the Pyramus and Thisbe episode. Add the play-within-the-play as Peter Quince and crew struggle to please the royals with theatrical entertainment. Then witness the appearance of the Lion, Moonshine and Wall. And last but not least, theres the wonderful character of Bottom, with all his endearing foolishness, preferring the role of tyrant to lover.
Its engaging theater making creative use of a bare bones budget.
Playing Bottom, one of Shakespeares plum roles, is Matt Gowin, who possesses an unusual presence and maturity for his age. He and Archer even weave a take on Elvis into this creative rendering. It works.
As Lysander, Wayne Petro shines, and Josh Aasengs Demetrius understands the rhythm of the lines.
Playing king and conjurer Oberon is Jake Whittenberg, who endows his character with poetry and grace.
Heading the female cast is Kristina Carrol, who makes a nimbly appealing Puck, and Ashley Murray is a delightful Helena and Eileen Connors Titania is well cast. To make her character even richer, Sam Henrys Hermia needs to lower her voice and slow her cadence.
But keep in mind that these actors are tackling a work normally performed by the seasoned best of the best.
The large cast holds no weak links, so were sorry space doesnt allow mentioning everyone. But Ventures admirable team spirit should prevent bruised egos. Kudos to all for well-spent elbow grease and some dazzling acrobatics. Its a very physical production, from the agile go-go-dancers to an able production team. Bravo to Melinda Middletons period enhancing costumes and Tina Franzens clever set.
The many virtues of Venture include honing a love of language in young, aspiring actors and keeping the audience on its toes, with surprises and delights in the grandest of all theatrical traditions.