A Midsummer Night’s Dream
21 young people are reinterpreting Shakespeare’s classic comedy, and you can bet I have feelings.
By Andrew Andrews
Demetrius loves Hermia, as does Lysander. Hermia loves the latter, but her father demands that she marry the former. And since this is ancient Athens, what daddy says, goes—unless Hermia would rather be committed to a life of chastity, or death.
Meanwhile, Helena is obsessed with Demetrius, who won’t give her the time of day because, like I said, Demetrius loves Hermia.
When Lysander and Hermia elope under cover of darkness to escape the jurisdiction of Athens, Helena tips off Demetrius and the two of them give chase. But running away is hard work, so everyone decides to take a nap.
Titania, queen of the fairies, instructs her minion Puck to apply a magical nectar to Demetrius’s eyelids so he’ll fall in love with the first thing he sees when he wakes up. She intends to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena and leave the fleeing couple alone; but oops, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and then, after correcting the mistake, winds up making both men fall head-over-heels for Helena and disgusted by the sight of Hermia.
In case you didn’t notice, Catskill Mountain Shakespeare has tweaked the Bard’s classic a bit, making it a little more queer to appeal to a younger, modern audience.
As I’ve said before, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite work of Shakespeare, and after enjoying Catskill Mountain’s inaugural production of Twelfth Night last summer, I was eager to return to Emerson Resort & Spa to see how they’d handle my fave.
While a few of the returning cast members excelled in their new roles, the company overall did not seem as polished as last year, with some performers at times seeming disconnected from the characters they were fulfilling. Granted, they were still much better than the aspiring actors in the Henry V production a few months ago in Rhinebeck, but I supect that some of the parts may have been filled out of necessity.
I don’t understand why the actions of Oberon and Titania were reversed in this rendition, which didn’t add anything but confusion to those familiar with the story (namely, me) until I finally figured out what was happening. I assume this questionable decision was made by the director, who is still pursuing their degree in perfection of the craft.
Unlike last year’s production, in which the cast just seemed to naturally adapt their roles to their own gender identities, the assignments and costuming in this year’s offering felt somehow a bit more forced.
This production did bear a couple of similarities to Smith Street Stages’ five-star production in Carroll Gardens that I reviewed back in 2018: firstly, in that the actors didn’t try to feign English accents, making the whole story a lot easier to follow; and secondly, in the depiction of the appropriate characters as malicious more than simply mischevious.
In addition, Mariah Lotz’s portrayal of Puck delightfully reminded me of Kathryn Hunter in Julie Taymor’s version of the play, although Lotz isn’t quite the shape-shifter that Hunter is.
From a comfort perspective, the seating at our opening night performance seemed unnecessarily crowded considering the open-air nature of the venue, and the chairs themselves were stiff enough to make us long for intermission and anxious to stand again after the final scene.
General admission tickets run about $33 with fees, plus the price of gas to climb the mountain. Although I’ve paid a lot less to enjoy aMND a lot more; I’ve also paid a lot more to enjoy other performances a lot less.
Andrew Andrews attended A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Emerson Resort & Spa Grounds in Mount Tremper on Saturday, July 16, 2022 @ 7:30pm to write this review.
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