Monday, April 7th, 2003
8:40 pm - Summer Dreams on a Snowy Night  
There's already a couple inches of snow on the ground. Sheesh...

Saw A Midsummer Night's Dream for the first time last night. I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years, and I knew something of the story, but had never watched the whole thing straight through. Frankly, the bits I'd seen had never held my interest, although I'll also admit that my itchy remote finger often works against me watching anything long enough to give it a fair shot. So I went into it with somewhat low expectations, along with the fact that the person I was with, helvirago, who was acquainted with most of the people in the cast, didn't have much in the way of expectations either. Plus, she hates the character of Puck.

The performance turned out to be great fun, and uproariously funny at times. There was much slapstick and many pratfalls, and we laughed and laughed. Puck's costume was a little weird, the lower half looking like an anatomically correct teddy bear, but all in all it was well done, and over too quickly.

It's not much of a play, really, just a farce, sort of like an episode of Frasier . It's not about the nature of love, or even falling in love. Three of the four couples start out in love. The exception is Demetrius and the love of his youth, Helena, who Demetrius has spurned because he's become infatuated with Hermia. They do eventually get back together, but not because Demetrius sees the error of his ways and true love wins out, but rather because Oberon casts a spell on him. (Note to self - start shopping at Oberon's florist.) One does wonder why Helena wants him at this point, because he's been such a butthead prior to this. The A plot (the romantic quadrangle) and the B plot (Oberon and Titania) are resolved three quarters of the way through the play. Just another episode of Love, Athenian Style. They are fun, and the actresses who played Hermia and Helena did excellent jobs with the parts, being funny, and sweet, and feisty. Which begs the question of why did Demetrius dump Helena? Helena and Hermia seem equally attractive.

The C plot about the amateur acting troupe got the biggest yucks, and deservedly so. The actors played their parts over the top, and literally threw themselves around the stage. I winced every time the fellow playing Thisbe hit the floor of the stage. Big guy. Ouch.

Still, it seems tacked on. You need a little bit of it early on just because you need a reason for Bottom to be in the wood, but you could end the play just as easily at dawn, and skip the performance of the players. Of course, if the intent is to leave the audience laughing, then it works fine just as it is.

So anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I probably won't seek it out, as I do Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing (which I watched tonight), but if it's on, I'll watch.
 
 
Current Mood: dreamy
Current Music: "Centerfold" - J. Geils Band
 
 
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Veejaneveejane on April 8th, 2003 - 06:35 am
My general take on MSND is that it's a genial satire of capital-R Romance, especially the tragic kind. I think you're supposed to look at Demetrius and wonder why Helena isn't good enough for him, and to wonder why Helena keeps following around this guy who is so rude to her. Like, if the plot hadn't told them to, they never would have gotten together!

Which is why the extended play at the end. You're laughing at the stupid players (all male you'll note, just like the players were in Shakespeare's own day), but you're also laughing at the very idea that romance and a few unlucky coincidences are worth killing yourself over. Like, "Oh! We were just taking this soooo seriously! Boy, we're a bunch of goofballs!" Which is pretty much what Puck says in the middle.

It's a really fun play, I have to say, although the only live version I've seen involved a female Puck, in leotards, swinging on and off the stage like Tarzan, and Oberon and Titania had pipe-cleaner antennae. Hey, it was high school. The acting was still good!
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DXMachina: calvindxmachina on April 8th, 2003 - 12:21 pm
I agree about Demetrius and Helena, and I agree about the play at the end. Mock Romeo and Juliet (two people I have always wanted to cluestick), and leave 'em laughing. I did note that the players were all male, and I even knew why. (It's amusing to note that Quince was played by a woman in drag, a reverse on the original convention.) Kind of hard to miss when the guy playing Thisbe was my size, bearded, and was using cabbage halves as falsies. Perhaps the funniest moment for me (other than an apparently accidental pratfall that had cabbage leaves all over the stage) was when Thisbe stabbed herself, right in the cabbage. You know the sound a knife makes when it's cutting through cabbage or lettuce?

Puck was played by a woman here, too, although she more hopped than swung (think Toad in X-Men). The costuming of the couples was immediately noticeable, by which I mean that each couple was wearing the same colors, and different from the other couples, so you could follow who belonged with whom. I mention it because Titania was dressed all in blue, while Oberon had blue hair. No antennae that I could discern.

I really liked most of the acting here, too. Emily was really worried, because she was afraid they'd all be over the top, but the play is very over the top, so it worked well.
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msbellemsbelle on April 8th, 2003 - 06:47 am
I was Puck in highschool. I loved the part, but hated how they chose to costume me - they went silver shiney pushing towards sexy and I thought he should be green and earthy and pushing towards androgeny.

The play is funnier to be in than to watch IMO, but then again I've seen it 9 or 10 times.

Don't remember any of my lines. funny.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 8th, 2003 - 12:24 pm
The Puck in this staging looked more like the Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine.
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