A Midsummer Night's Dream
nytheatre.com review by Matt Johnston
August 19, 2009
I can't remember when I've ever had this much fun at a Shakespeare play in New York—this may be because I never have. BAMA Theatre Company has managed to breathe new and exciting life into one of the most famous comedies of all time, and for that they should be commended.
I won't recount the whole story here, as you probably already know it. If not you can find it here. The concept of this specific production is relatively simple, which is part of the reason it succeeds so well. Basically it's eight actors and a single trunk that holds their costumes, props, and floor tape. Each actor plays a number of different parts as they tell this story.
Simple? Yes. Effective? Most definitely. The company looks like they're having a blast up there, and we feed off of that energy every minute. It's difficult to pick stars out of a cast that is so talented and energetic all around, but I'll make an attempt: William Brock's Bottom is ludicrously hilarious, Alison Frederick's Hermia is adorable and sometimes dangerous, Sarah Walker Thornton is wonderfully needy and appropriately scorned as the tormented Helena, and Chris Roe's Puck is absolutely delicious. But everyone in the cast is phenomenal in all of their parts. A special shout-out is in order to the ensemble for their hilarious "Pyramus and Thisbe," and the wonderful specificity and humor of the fairies.
The director, Peter Macklin, has done wonderful work here. He has clearly guided his actors to a place where they feel free to play and live inside the story. And speaking of story, it is a credit to Macklin that his staging is spot-on to help us in the audience always know what is going with the complicated plot, and have fun following both action and exposition. The little details he infuses the production with are fantastic as well—for example, the actors on the sidelines often make ambient sounds to convey setting. Each character in the ensemble has his or her own ticks and unique set of given circumstances that breathe enormous amounts of life into the fairy and player troupe sequences.
I can't recommend you go see this show enough. It's Shakespeare as it was meant to be played. Simple, smart, and fun.