Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer pastimes


What is summer for if not watching outdoor productions of Shakespeare on folding chairs while swatting away mosquitoes? Reasoning thus, I found myself at a student production of A Midsummer Night's Dream yesterday evening.

Everyone reads Dream in high school, and I've seen the play performed a couple times since then, but I'd forgotten what a gem of a play it was. I was three hours in those folding chairs, but it felt like much less. Totally elegant, concise Elizabethan language, spoken by actors who (for the most part) knew how to declaim it properly. The rhyming couplets, which seem so quaint on the page, suddenly click when you hear them spoken. And this play has one of the highest ratios of memorable lines to square inch in all of Shakespeare.

There were occasional blips. The female actors (particularly the two lovers) had trouble projecting - particularly when the occasional bus or helicopter passed by - and as they tried to increase their volume to compensate, their voices became shriller and even harder to hear. (Osbert's First Rule of Everyday Acoustics: Lower frequencies project farther.) The actor who portrayed Theseus/Oberon, having done an admirable job for the first four acts, started making up his lines during the famous "The lunatic, the lover and the poet" speech, one of my favourites in all of Shakespeare. And the play-within-a-play put on by the "rude mechanicals", hilarious as it is, was taken just a bit too far: after about two minutes of watching Thisbe die, you start to wonder what time it is. But it was well worth my $7.00.

You, too, should support outdoor amateur theatre in your place of residence! Bring insect repellent.

1 comment:

shereadsbooks said...

If you're in TO this summer you simply must go see this same play in High Park. It's fantastic! Phil and I saw it last year, and it was so good that they've actually brought it back for a second run this summer. Go! Go!

See here for the press release: http://www.canstage.com/2007-2008/pdfs/Dream%20-%20Full%20Release.pdf