By Christina Perryman
“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”
Hedgerow Theatre Company kicks off the summer with a fresh production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” on stage through June 11.
Wonderfully directed by Aaron Cromie, this comedy is full of rich characters, humorous situations and fun loving sprites.
Let me introduce the players. Theseus, the duke of Athens, is preparing to marry Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, when he approached by Egeus. Egeus seeks the duke’s intervention with his daughter, Hermia. Egeus has agreed to allow Demetrius to marry Hermia. Hermia, however, is in love with Lysander, which is not acceptable to Egeus. Hermia’s childhood friend, Helena, is in love with Demetrius, who, although previously interested in Helena, now wants nothing to do with the poor girl. Theseus gives Hermia three options — marry Demetrius, die or become a nun. Lysander has another idea and after dark, the two lovers sneak away into the forest to elope. Helena learns of the plan and hoping to win Demetrius’ favor, tells him of the plan. Demetrius and Helena follow Hermia and Lysander.
While this drama is unfolding, Oberon, king of the fairies, is fighting with his wife, Titania, queen of the fairies. Titania is the care taker of a young Indian prince whom Oberon wants as his henchman. In order to get his way, Oberon concocts a devious plan. In the forest, there is a flower shot by Cupid’s arrow, that can be made into a powerful love potion. While Titania sleeps, Oberon intends to put the potion on her eyes and when she wakes, she will instantly fall in love with the first thing she sees. Oberon will only remove the potion when Titania agrees to give Oberon charge of the child. This works better than Oberon expected when Titania falls for Nick Bottom, an arrogant actor, whose head was turned into an ass’s visage by Puck.
Things get wildly out of hand when Oberon observes Helena being abused by Demetrius. Oberon tells his mischievous fairy, Robin Goodfellow (AKA Puck) to place the potion on Demetrius so that he will fall in love with Helena. Puck, who did not actually see Demetrius, accidentally gives Lysander the potion. Lysander awakens to see Helena and is instantly in love. Trying to correct his mistake, Puck also gives Demetrius the potion and also falls in love with Helena. With both her suitors now in arduously pursuing her friend, Hermia is understandably confused while Helena is convinced the men are playing a cruel trick.
Hedgerow’s cast is outstanding. Each actor plays several different roles with great success. Zoran Kovcic is terrific as Theseus, Oberon and Peter Quince. Susan Wefel took on several men’s parts, including Egeus and Nick Bottom, which was interesting twist considering when Shakespeare’s shows were originally produced, men played the women’s parts. She played Bottom as the pompous, overconfident ass he was with humor and expression and without being over the top. Josh Portera was great as Lysander and Snug. As the former, Portera was charming, as the latter, he was played the dimwitted part comically. Mark Swift was excellent as Demetrius and Francis Flute, but my favorite was when he played Puck. He had the perfect mischievous facial expressions and his movements are sprite-like. Allison Bloechl gives each of her four characters (Hippolyta, Helena, Titania and Starveling) distinct personalities. I thoroughly enjoyed her hippie version of Starveling. Bloechl’s Hippolyta was regal while love-struck Titania was aggressive. Her Helena was sweet and very funny when the men begin to chase her. Madalyn St. John was endearing as Hermia, especially after Lysander begins to pursue Helena. St. John has great comedic timing and the line, “and though she be but little, she is fierce,” describes St. John perfectly.
For this production, Shaun Yates and Kovcic removed the traditional stage. Instead, most of the action takes place on the floor, which works splendidly and is a nice deviation. The area is transformed into a virtual forest, with help from Cromie’s sound and Jared Reed’s lighting. The costumer, designed by Elizabeth Hanson, were more modern, which has been the trend with the last several Shakespeare plays I have seen. And it works.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs at Hedgerow Theatre Company, 64 Rose Valley Road, through June 11. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $34 for adults, $31 for seniors and $30 for anyone under age 30. For tickets or information, call 610-565-4211 or visit http://hedgerowtheatre.org/.