Venue: Jericho Arts Centre, Vancouver
Dates: 04-19 May, 2002
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Enter the theatre at Jericho Arts Centre and you are
in a leafy, magical three sided auditorium centred by a small tiered
stage. Here, you are informed, 7 actors and a dog will perform
Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. And how, you may ask
yourself, will seven actors manage all those characters? Magically
and efficiently, they do.
Director John Paterson has dispensed with any scenery, save that with which the theatre is decorated, and so maintains the flow of the production, without the constant interruption of actors carrying furniture and properties on and off the stage. He wisely relies on his author, who always lets the audience know where a scene is set. His use of the three tiered stage is admirable, ensuring that all the audience have a clear view of the action and actors at all times.
The cast are all quick-change artists cleverly dressed in every day clothes designed to enable them to transform themselves from courtiers to workmen or fantastic spirits. Overalls cover a multitude of clothes. With the clothes the actors change character with celerity and skill.
While it is not unusual to see Theseus and Oberon, Hipolitta and Titania double cast and the courtiers, fairies, this production adds a surprise as these performers add "the rude mechanicals " to their repertoires. One man - or woman- plays many parts. Curtis Greyeyes has dignity and a quiet authority as Theseus, an enjoyment of malice and power as Oberon and a delightful slow wittedness as Snug. His well-modulated quiet voice and excellent diction are a joy to hear, though he can roar as a lion as loudly as anyone.
Julia Henderson is a queenly Hipolitta / Titania. She and Curtis Greyeyes establish a visible rapport. Anna Cummer 's Hermia is a determined young woman who knows what she wants and is courageous enough to risk all to get it, though she still retains her maidenly modesty. Her transformation to Quince, the actor manager of the Athenian thespians, is quite remarkable and her singing and performance as a fairy are enchanting.
Sarah Hattingh's Helena is a nice contrast to Hermia, and she also sings well with Anna Cummer in the lullaby. As Snout, her facial statement while playing Wall is well done. Chris Moon shines as both Lysander and Bottom. He manages not to over act or shout as Bottom and is a beguiling lover of both Hermia and Helena.
Jaime Ogden 's most successful role is Flute the bellows mender as Thisbe. Unfortunately Kevin Spenst has a tendency to shout too much and this detracts from his portrayal of both Egeus and Puck. As Puck, he has tremendous energy and gymnastic ability but he needs to lower his volume level. He manages to control his voice successfully as Starveling and is only slightly upstaged by Albert the dog, as Moonshine.
This company plays well together. They keep the production running at a good pace, with variation in tempo and mood. The music of Jeff Tymoschuk and lighting of Kevin Nimmo enhance these. Credit must be given to the stage manager who succeeds in getting all the actors onto the stage in the tight costume at the right time in a seemingly seamless performance.
This is a delightful dream, and no, you won't sleep.
© 2002, Jane Penistan
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