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Review Midsummer

Prakhyat Reddy
Prof. Christopher Sadler
DRAM 1713 (Hons.)
Word Count: 1039
Review: Midsummer
This March, OU students performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Weitzenhoffer
Theater. A true Shakespearean classic which is also one of the best-known comedies for having a
play-within-a-play. Director Judith Midyett Pender’s production elevates the play with a light
and hearty atmosphere in what has been a rather cold semester. It was a great way to cap off the
first half of the semester. While it is probably just me, but I truly enjoyed the play’s exploration
of personal agency and young love combined with watching a young man with the head of a
Midsummer is an excellent choice for a play utilizing an ensemble cast. My first play on
campus, and I am impressed with the talent at OU to pull off a production of this nature. While
there are some roles that shine more than the others, it hard to pick a favorite one. The director
does an excellent job of bringing out the best in her actors and balances the ensemble very well.
It is clear that the play has many important roles without needing to rely on a lead actor. It is
something that we see very few plays manage to pull off effectively. I kept wondering who the
most important characters were? This results in an atmosphere which is engaging and makes you
pay attention closely. Was it Theseus (Will Warner)? The 4 lovers? Titania (Alyssa Carassco)?
Oberon (Justin Marlow)? Or Somebody from the theater group? The spotlight is truly divided
among the entire cast.
The play starts when the jazzified version of some pop song ends. The time is ancient
Greece and its king, Theseus, is marrying Hippolyta (played by Will Warner and Jolie
Brandstein). There are four young lovers. Hermia (Lanee Starr) and Lysander (Sarah Santamaria)
are in love but Hermia’s father, Egeus (Nick Disla) wants her to marry another suitor, Demetrius
(Wyatt Parker). Helena (Haley Jones-Nelan), another young lady, is in love with Demetrius. This
makes for the setting where the characters pursue their desires and leave chaos in their wake.
Hermia and Lysander flee into a nearby wood followed by the other two young Athenians. The
wood is filled with fairies lead by Oberon (Justin Marlow) and his love, Titania (Alyssa
Carrasco). The fairy king and queen have had a spat and Oberon conspires with a fairy, named
Puck to get even with Titania. Puck get a special flower that will make his queen fall in love with
the first thing she sees when she wakes. In the middle of this plan, Oberon overhears Helena
pleading with Demetrius to love her and not Hermia. He tells Puck to use the flower to make
Demetrius love Helena. Puck confuses Lysander for Demetrius and chaos follows.
At the same time in Athens, a group of commoners are preparing a play in honor of the
nuptials at the palace, led by Peter Quince (Wyatt Parker), the carpenter. Taking the romantic
lead of Pyramus, is Bottom (Joseph Lawrence Hoffman), a Weaver. Hoffman shines as a
pompous fellow who thinks he can play every role. The female lead, Thisbe, is played by Francis
Flute (Ethan Clock), a Bellows-mender. The additional supporting cast includes Robin
Starveling (Jordan Shykind), a Tailor who plays Thisbe’s mother and the Moon. Tom Snout (PK
Kaya), a Tinker who plays Thisbe’s father and the Wall. And lastly, Snug (Lucas Schrantz), a
Joiner who will plays the role of a “not scary” Lion. They go into the same mystical wood, as the
lovers, to rehearse. In the forest, a spell is cast on Bottom who is partially turned into a donkey.
You can probably guess who Titania sees when she awakens. This sets off a chain of hilarious
events and interactions that eventually lead to the resolution of the lovers’ desires, and the final
play to honor the nuptials. Midsummer closes with the troupe’s performance for the newlyweds
and it is probably the best scene of this production.
Warner and Brandstein play the roles of Theseus and Hippolyta very well. They have a
good chemistry between them. The 4 lovers also play convincing roles while being funny. Wyatt
shines with his dialogue as Demetrius and Helena shines with physical comedy in her role as
Helena. Marlow and Carassco play the role of Oberon and Titania, which leaves a little to be
desired in terms of their development. Lastly, the troupe of play performers are cast very well.
Hoffman’s Nick Bottom is the standout performance. He truly managed to make the audience
break out in laughter throughout the play. His ability to consistently switch characters within his
characters is done effortlessly.
Pender’s direction keeps everything running smoothly. She manages to make the
production beautiful despite the minimalistic approach to set design and lighting. Logan Wynn
and Ezra Lansgaard have done a great job there. Her actors can always be heard clearly as the
aesthetic distance is short. Also, the stage is a thrust which brings us even closer to the play. She
stays true to the comedic nature of the play and adapts it for the modern audience. There is also a
lot of breaking the 4th wall and a moment where the presentational nature of play stands out is
when she manages to incorporate a horns down reference into the production. Abigail Lotspeich
and Gabei Williams do a great job with costume design and makeup. The actors look realistic
and in-line to the timing of the play and their characters.
Christopher Broach does a great job as a stage manager. The play went by smoothly
throughout. The actors often have to go by the audience when leaving in the stage in some
instances. The practice, effort, and chemistry of the team is on full display as there were no
technical errors in the production that stalled the overall experience.
As my first play viewing experience on campus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was quite
an impressive production. Those who have never seen this comedy, the language can be a little
difficult to follow at times. However, it is hard to miss the themes of the play. For those that
might miss the play on words, it makes up for in physical comedy. The play has a little bit for
everyone to enjoy.