A Midsummer Night’s Dream dazzles

The gorgeous and magical set immediately caught my eye as I sat and anticipated the start of Red Bird Productions’ interpretation of the iconic Shakespearean play. My attention shifted from the wonderfully draped green leaves and sparkling background when Zak Pham as Theseus opened his mouth to speak.

 A Midsummer Night’s Dream is essentially about three groups. The first group is composed of  fair maiden Hermia (Leah Harvell), her love Lysander (Evan Byrd), he who loves Hermia, Dimitrius (Noor Jahlul), and she who loves Dimitrius, Helena (Curstin Brown). The second group is a band of Athenian craftsmen preparing for a play, Quince (Jada Mills), Bottom (Logan Hill), Flute (Petru Nechiti), Snug (Tiara Brown), Snout (Brooke Kayl) and Starveling (Julianna Reeves). The third group is the band of fairies led by Fairy King Oberon (Amelie Buron), his servant Puck (Matt Banks) and Fairy Queen Titania (Jolie Laporte). 

As Hermia and Lysander sleep before they are to be married, Puck spreads magical-flower-love-potion-juice over Lysander’s eyelids, causing him to fall in love with Helena and abandon Hermia. After some recklessness with the potion, Lysander and Dimitrius are both in love with Helena, Helena distrusts Hermia for the men’s sudden affection, Hermia’s heart is broken, Titania is in love with Bottom, and Puck is in trouble for this grand mistake. 

At the end of the play Hermia and Lysander are in love, Helena and Dimitrius are in love, and they all watch the craftsmen’s play in King Theseus’ castle. The theatre students expertly brought out the overarching theme “Lord what fools these mortals be!”

In mesmerizing costumes, Amelie Buron and Jolie Laporte were fantastic in portraying the powerful, fierce nature of the Fairy King and Queen. These two were my favorite characters. However, their relationship translated as a rivalry between two strong women, as Oberon desired Titania’s adopted child, rather than a troubled marriage. Though not intended, I appreciated this modern interpretation. 

The dynamic between the fairy king and his servant was excellently portrayed by Matt Banks and Amelie Buron. While watching, I felt Puck’s excitement at any ounce of power or independence he was granted, then his fear when Oberon reprimanded him. Leah Harvell and Jada Mills did an exceptional job as Hermia and Quince. Harvell’s acting lent itself to the grounded yet emotional character of Hermia and Mills’ energetic presence was entertaining and magnetizing. 

The play was lighthearted and humorous. Its main source of humor throughout was burlesque with touches of slapstick and reversal. The burlesque contrast of the characters was a bit obvious and cringey, but charming nonetheless as the audience reacted with soft laughter. 

The fairies’ parody of Hit me Baby One More Time as a lullaby to Queen Titania was a nice touch. The funniest part of the production was definitely the play within a play. The gender reversal of Flute, the wannabe Mr. Tough Guy, was unexpected and funny, as well as his hitting Bottom on the stomach trying to wake him up. 

What really made me smile was when Brook Kayl played Snout who played the legendary wall. The characters in the play within the play exclaimed, “Oh wall, sweet wall,” as they proceeded to kiss each other on either side of it. The crowd couldn’t contain their laughter. 

Red Bird Productions should be proud of another wonderful show.