One of Shakespeare’s most-performed plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always open to interpretation. Loyalist City Shakespeare, under the skillful direction of Sarah Rankin, streamlines this undoubtedly frenzied storyline into a lovely one act play that is a treat for the whole family.
It’s a case of unrequited love, mistaken identities, and fairy shenanigans wrapped in a tangled web of interconnected plot lines. Hermia (Amelia Hatfield) loves Lysander (Tyler MacLennan). Helena (Tatyana Vautour) loves Demetrius (Matt Hamilton-Snow). Demetrius loves Hermia. And no one loves Helena. In an ill-considered attempt to follow their hearts, this four-legged love triangle (does that make it a love square?) finds itself lost in the woods only to be toyed with by meddling, if not moderately well-intentioned, fairies.
Chaos, confusion and confrontation ensue as the delightfully impish Puck (Peter Boyce) tries to right his wrongfully administered love-potion, making matters worse in the meantime. Before its resolution, the convoluted love story turns upside down only to have both men fighting over a highly-distressed Helena, who assumes everyone is making fun of her in her passionate pursuit of Demetrius.
While assuming usually makes an ass out of you and me, in true topsy-turvy form, it ends up being Bottom (Scott Connolly), a local actor in a poorly-produced production of Pyramus and Thisbe, who is turned into an ass, er, donkey. It’s all part of Oberon’s (Nathan MacFarlane) plan to embarrass his wife, Titania (Jillian Bonner), into submission by causing her to fall in love with the unfortunate creature under the influence of the same love potion used on the unassuming Athenians.
There is no doubt that Connolly steals the show with his antics as a most memorable Bottom. Brilliant physical comedy paired with an array of accents (including a John Wayne impression) keep the audience on the edge of their seats not knowing what to expect next.
On occasion the emphasis on iambic pentameter muddled the phrasing, but overall, it was clear that the cast was in command of the text.
The highlight of the show ended up being the actual production of Pyramus and Thisbe that the Mechanicals perform for the happy couples after the main plot has been resolved. Dustyn Forbes is unstoppable in his bewigged performance of Thisbe, Pyramus’ love interest. The wedding party’s genuine jovial responses make it all the more entertaining as both audiences enjoy the play-within-a-play together.
Bubbles of belly laughter peppered each scene as the audience was swept into A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Loyalist City Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 22-25 at 7:30PM at the BMO Studio Theatre, 112 Princess Street.