By admin on Jun 25, 2009 | In ATW Reviews
Artistic Director Joanna Settle has given her first production at Shakespeare on the Sound a new twist – literally. It’s designer Andrew Lieberman’s a serpentine wooden stage that winds over the grounds at Rowayton, CT’s Pinkney Park where fairies and lovers weave their way along the lighted planks in an intriguing, but often uneven, new rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Original music by Passing Strange composer Stew (with recorded accompaniment musically supervised by Deborah Lapidus) includes incidental music between scenes, underscoring and stand-alone songs (vocals aren’t the strongest, but the outdoor/dreamlike setting steals attention), with a haunting love theme that sticks with you long after you have left the park. Choreography by David Neumann (a number of the actors crawl spider-like along the plank) and designer Ilona Somogyi’s black and white toned modern costumes that don’t detract from the tradition of the play but rather add to the drama and freshness of the production.
While Settle succeeds in creating a wonderful dreamlike setting (with just one glitch in sound (Jessica Paz, designer), an echo when microphones and monitors met at one part of the stage), she fails to draw out a sense of merriment and passion from the actors who turn into lovers and animals under the spell of the night. The exception is Ty Jones, who plays one of the best Nick Bottom’s I have ever seen. As the weaver-turned ass-turned lover of Fairy Queen Titania (Doan Ly), he infuses his lines (and a blues number) with great gusto and humor as he clicks his hooves and makes Shakespeare sound modern.
Gregory Wooddell gives a nice turn as Demetrius, loved by Helena (Gretchen Hall) but suitor of Hermia (Marjan Neshat) who is in love with Lysander (Albert Jones), and one of the play’s funniest moments involves Wooddell’s chewing gum, but none of the lovers seem to have any chemistry. It isn’t for lack of energy, however, as the actors make numerous entrances by running from a distance and jumping on to the winding stage, leap fences, climb trees and do flips.
It’s a pleasant evening under the stars and some of the best fun is listening to the giggles from little children around the lawn who enjoy the antics on stage.
---- Lauren Yarger
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays through June 28 at Rowayton’s Putney Park, 177 Rowayton Ave, and July 4-12 at Baldwin Park, Greenwich, 100 Arch St. Performances are Tuesdays – Sundays at 7:30 pm. Admission is free, but a donation of $20 is suggested. For more information, visit www.shakespeareonthesound.org.
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