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Awaking From “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: A Review

By Nick Morrison | Staff Writer

November 28, 2012

Dos Pueblos’ most recent theatrical production is a “steam-punk” (Victorian England Hell-bent on steam power) rendition of Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The production was shown on three separate nights and had a humble, yet elated turn-out of actor’s parents and DP alumni alike.

There was a fitful cheer in the Elings Performing Arts Center the night of the 16th, as the numerous audience members filed into the rows of seats.

One could see actors of the Dos Pueblos Theater company pacing back and forth on stage, carrying on with antics usually associated with the backstage of a theater, moments before beginning the show. This subtle start to the play, left many patrons of the theater within a veil of confusion; a risky maneuver that led to questioning whether this was the intent of Clark Sayre, the theater’s director, or rather a theatrical slip-up leading to a loss of understanding within the audience. As the “backstage business” continued a voice pierced the mumbled words of the crowd saying, “Who’ gonna remind the audience to turn off their cellphones?!” A potentially humorous bridge into the play was burned, confusion and interest were all that were ahead of us at this point.

Moments following this the previously distracted actors got into position on stage and the true beginning of the production had been revealed, just as the actors had begun what appeared to be a regular play starting paused.

A flash of purple light was seen and fishnet clad “fairies” of the steam-punk Shakespearian universe took the stage, I was perplexed and amused as I saw these beings joyfully play with the previously sentient  thespians.

The antics continued as Puck a mischievous and somewhat gimmicky fairy preyed on the mortals of Athens. Several jokes and one-too-many “rabbit out of the hat tricks” later, acting as a catalyst to chaos,  Puck sets the play in motion by giving a love potion to an undesired person.

Amidst the drama following the recently in love Athenians I was taken back at the intuitivity of the theatrical set, a raised stage mounted on a hinge, allowing for quick changes between the setting of a theater and an enchanted forest.

Atop the stage were actors dressed in costumes of mixed themes, although a valiant attempt to stick to a steam-punk setting, several costumes featuring glitter covered tophats and marching band outfits left one wondering if they were watching a modern adaptation to Shakespeare or a Michael Jackson music video.

The music for the play however, wasn’t from a music video, it was primarily composed by Dos Pueblos students. Featuring tunes such as “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie, Peter Chatman’s “Everyday I Have the Blues”, and “Take Five” by Paul Desmond. The music for the play was a heavily jazz influenced group of songs, written and improvised alike.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was an interestingly interpreted adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, and although I cannot relate to all the decisions Sayre made as a director it was certainly interesting to see the play presented in such an alternate universe.

As I was explained by many an actor involved in the production, “It doesn’t really make sense.” Which is precisely what made the play so interesting; the mixed storylines coupled with the lack of familiarity of a classical set provided for a more adventurous, curious attitude, along with themes of the difficulties of love and the bringing together of opposites made for a very thought provoking atmosphere. Even having left out some scenes containing ideals of violence and how frequently it ties into romance, the lessons of those experienced in Midsummer still hold true.

Over all, Dos Pueblos’ performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream confused, struck aw in, and inspired it’s viewers.

The admirable effort of the fine actors and crew members of the production is apparent within the quality of the show, which those who were lucky enough to make it to school that weekend were lucky enough to witness.

The hard work and flashy set changes were obvious additions to the play that provided an interesting new look at a classic play, which was done in a creative yet equivocal way.

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