Independent Shakespeare Company Presents: A Midsummer Nights Dream on a Midsummer Night in Griffith Parkby Diana Knox on July 18, 2012
Saw another great Independent Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last Sunday and even though the audience was over 1800 on Saturday I didn’t see you there on Sunday.
I’ve got to tell you I was a little disappointed as I’ve been telling you for the last couple of months what a great experience this is and what a fantastic cast they have, so I expected a little more from you; I expected you to get off your lazy ass and come picnic and revel in Griffith Park.
My wife Diana, not a reveler, also felt she had seen too many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We were at a Barnsdall Park Production, next to Hollyhock House back in 2007 where Puck ran around in a furry red bikini brief and Medi-Vac helicopters did mid-performance rooftop landings at Children’s Hospital just two blocks away. Talk about having to re-focus your audience back into the play… that took talent.
This is a new cast equally talented… the lovers Hermia and Lysander… Mary Guilliams a glorious rose, Andrè Martin (in a “Greece” logo-ed t-shirt just in case we forget where we are), Demetrius and Helena are played by Erwin Tuazan and the stunning Aisha Kabia are all examples of the very high performance standards the Independent Shakespeare Company is setting theses days. These ingénues who are putting their time-in the trenches deserve to break out into the mainstream world of HBO and Showtime or what ever else they might wish to pursue. They’re great and they are ready.
Sean Pritchett a nimble and mischievous Puck, no furry red bikini briefs, he doesn’t need them. Taller than the classic Puck he brings great skill and acrobatic energy to the roll.
Oberon who slips in a couple of American/French “urbs” as opposed to the English and Shakespearean herb with an “h” (what a nit picker have I become) is commanding and exemplary in role. Oberon and Titania Queen of the fairies are played by Luis Galindo and Melissa Chalsma who do double duty as Theseus the Duke and Hippolita Queen of the Amazons and rulers of Athens. Melissa, one of the founders of the Independent Shakespeare Company, skillfully and with evolving insight directed this delightful production.
An interesting choice that Mellisa Chalsma has made is to have a baby infant Indian Prince as opposed to the young boy Prince portrayed in other productions. The older seven-year old Prince in a complex and disturbing way explains Oberon’s jealousy, while the baby prince plays more to the Queen’s love of a new born baby. I guess it is a question of who Oberon is jealous of… the Queen or the Prince and this is why Shakespeare is always intriguing, directors can subtly change the emphasis and relationships are naturally rebalanced and what was hidden in the dialog before is revealed.
There is much comic relief some of the best of it played by Donny Campbell as Bottom the Weaver, what a part, what a performance, Shakespeare must have loved his fools. The Athenian players inside the play are charmingly funny, as they should be. The fairies are dressed in the fashion of Elizabethan garb and mime behind the scene as a synchronized group to highlight and punctuate scenes especially those of Titania the Queen of the fairies.
At intermission they sell t-shirt and CDs on stage, sadly they were out of the adult sizes and it pays to know your Shakespeare so you can slip away in a relatively unimportant scene to get to the bathroom and not get caught in the long lines at intermission.
In looking for you amongst the audience, I see many children – it’s a great way for parents to introduce their kids to Shakespeare. Teenagers and early twenties come in groups of buddies to enjoy, there are a few first dates looking for cheap date night, maybe with a hint of sophistication a pinch of oh I’m cool, and a touch of oh I’m cultured. I speak of myself at this age.
Shockingly the average member of the audience is donating only $2.50 per person per performance, a third of the cost of a movie ticket, a thirtieth the cost of a cheap theater ticket. I said it last time and I’ll say it again $20 bucks per adult is fine in fact that is a great deal, kids… buy them a $15 t-shirt each and they are covered.
Now if you’re planning on coming next time, “A Winters Tale” is only in the rotation for a couple more weeks and “A Comedy of Errors” starts in early August. Check it out on face book and be there next time. After I’ve seen a Comedy of Errors I’ll have much better things to do than to harass you and to yell at your lazy-assed behavior.
If you were there on Saturday please accept my humble apology and I’m sure you enjoyed it greatly.