It Left a Lot Laughing
"You are a purist!!!" exclaimed one of my colleagues in the Connecticut Critics Circle, in a rather accusatory tone. That critic "loved..." with great enthusiasm, all the devices that I felt were needlessly cutesy and overdone. Narrow-minded is not a term that I find applicable to my theatre viewing, but excess doth not necessarily make the Bard's writing any more humorous. So saying, it must be acknowledged, that the audience's applause was very exuberant. That's the value of this website; pick the critic who thinks like you.
What sealed this critics attitude was the use of the Everly Brother's hit song, "All I have to Do is Dream." Though it was released in 1958, and therefore chronologically "fits" into this production this reviewer still found it jarring to the ear. Alas, directorial choice and some folks' pleasure. The original music composed by Paul James Pendergast was at least more in-keeping with the period tones of the play. At least, my memory seems to recall that, but accurately?
The elocution of all the actors was impressive and the choice of time-frame was acceptable. Certainly the costuming was "correct" for the period, but not the most complementary to the play.....as compared to other visions of it. "Midsummer Night's Dream" Director Lisa Peterson also directed Oregon Shakespeare Festivals production of "Othello," which stared Peter Macon, a Yale MFA graduate. Having seen it earlier this month, I found it was powerful in every way and "respectful" of Shakespeare's spirit. Being playful with the Bard's work is a fine balancing act. For some of us, excessive "schtick" borders on offensive.
Scenic Designer, Rachel Hauck's (who also did fine set design for "Othello" in Oregon) use of skeletal trees and a square in the stage floor that opened and "disappeared" in the most intriguing and appropriate moments, was creatively incorporated and enhanced the rhythm of the action. Along with the creative lighting skills of Stephen Strawbridge the settings were frightening or magical or quite ordinary.