At Midsummer, A Sweet 'Dream'
By Martin F. Kohn
Originally printed 7/17/2014 (Issue 2229 - Between The Lines News)
What do you call 800 people enjoying a Shakespeare play outdoors on a warm July evening in midtown Detroit?
How about a midsummer night's dream? Which not coincidentally is the latest offering from Shakespeare in Detroit, intrepid producer Samantha White's theater company, which brings free Shakespeare performances to various locations in the city. "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the troupe's first foray into comedy, was staged Saturday at New Center Park. And yes, the place was filled with some 800 people.
They were treated to a delightful production, with some standout performances, a less than cooperative sound system, a few smart choices on the part of director Cal Schwartz and/or his actors, and a couple of questionable choices, culprit(s) unknown. Well, as is said in Act One, "The course of true love never did run smooth."
Let's get the complaints out of the way; there aren't many. The play was publicized as beginning "promptly" at 8:30. It began promptly at 9. The amplification paid homage to the three bears. Sometimes it was too soft, sometimes it was too loud, sometimes it was just right, and occasionally it just growled. Finally, most contemporary productions edit Shakespeare, usually for the sake of brevity. Consequently, this production never dragged, but I did miss the famous speech that starts off, "The lunatic, the lover and the poet/ Are of imagination all compact."
Now for the good stuff. There was no scenery, just as in Shakespeare's time. I would not wish this on every play, but it's nice to remember how imagination can fill in the gaps.
Most of Shakespeare's plays have one or two huge roles and several substantial and smaller roles, but "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is all substantial and smaller roles. Schwartz also has many of his actors play two parts. Thus, opportunities to shine are spread around. Especially fine work is done by:
Laura Heikkinen as Hermia, the woman with two suitors: the one she loves and the one her father has picked. Aristocratic in bearing and bit reminiscent of Jane Fonda in voice, Heikkinen conveys Hermia's defiance and resolve.
Jennifer Cole as the fairy queen, Titania, and Hippolyta, bride-to-be of Duke Theseus. She overdoes it nicely as the fairy queen in chemically-induced love with a man with a donkey's head, and puts on a convincing Caribbean accent as Hippolyta who is, as the text says, from another country.
Chris Jakob, as mischief-making Puck, is indefatigable as he leaps and dashes about.
A special shout-out goes to Patrick Hanley in the small part of Snug, one of the tradesmen preparing their performance of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for the duke and his bride. Tabbed to play the lion in "Pyramus," he's always silently working on his scary pounce while more important things are going on around him.
Besides directing, Schwartz also designed the costumes. For whatever reason they are of vaguely late Victorian vintage, the era of Oscar Wilde's plays, but they are visually appealing and make it easy to tell the characters apart.
Additional performances of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" are planned. Whenever and wherever they may be it's certainly a pleasure to have Shakespeare in Detroit.
'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Shakespeare in Detroit
2 hours, 15 minutes
7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6
Grand Circus Park (right outside of Comerica Park)
Sponsored by the Detroit 300 Conservancy.
Noon Sunday, Aug. 17 & 24
4421 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
$75, including brunch.
Limited seating; advance reservations required: 313-832-5700
- Ferndale's Ringwald Theatre Seeks Troupes For Gay Play Series
- Michigan Theater Presents New Wine & Film Series
- Things Get Hairy In East Lansing
- Prize-Winning Musical Packs Emotional Punch
- Performance Network To Host Ann Arbor Film Festival For Two Nights
- Ann Arbor Theater Performs Classic Children's Tale
- AIDS/HIV Organizations
- AIDS Committee Of Windsor
- University of Michigan HIV/AIDS Treatment Program
- Wonderful Animals Giving Support (WAGS)
- Walter P. Reuther Library
- Macomb Bike & Fitness
- Community Centers
- Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit
- Pet Adoption
- Humane Society of Huron Valley
- Olivia Cruises & Travel
- Wedding Gowns
- Bombshell Bridal Boutique
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Anti-Gay Company Has Lapsed Michigan Mechanic's License
- Q&A: Reba Talks 'Very Important' LGBT Rights, Her First Gay Wedding & Feeling 'Sad' For Closeted Country Stars
- Q&A: Scott Eastwood Endorses Father's Gay Marriage Mantra, Talks Sex Scenes ('I Was Turned On') & Mel Gibson's Advice
- Is GoFundMe The New Welfare For Anti-Gay Corporations?
- Michigan House Passes Adoption Discrimination Bills
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
SOUTHFIELD - This year the BTL Ultimate LGBT Wedding and Anniversary Expo was held on the anniversary weekend of Judge Friedman's decision in DeBoer v. Snyder. That decision struck down Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, for less than 24 hours, allowing 323 couples to become legally married in the state.View More Marriage
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!