Detroit Mercy’s ‘Midsummer’ a delight in mid-winter
DETROIT, Michigan–Imagine a world of fairies and magic, a forest in which to get lost and abandoned, and forces of nature that pull unsuspecting people in strange, different directions. Perhaps it’s a dream of a balmy night where silliness and mishaps thrive. Now playing at the University of Detroit Mercy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is Shakespeare’s supernatural comedy that shows us how irrational love can be and the absurdity of love that is forced.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted and directed by Damian Torres-Botello, S.J., is UDM’s first Shakespearian play in almost a decade.
In this adaptation, Torres experiments with gender, casting women in traditionally male roles and men in women’s. Lysander, who is in love with Hermia, is played zealously by Taylor LaPorte. King Oberon is played by Sarah Hawkins, who also plays Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Hawkins’ Oberon is merry with a serious case of playful vindictiveness. Dalton Hahn is floaty and coquettish as Queen Titania, then seamlessly transitions to Duke Theseus. In light of the gender flipping, Torres said he had to adjust gender specific references and pronouns to make the play jibe.
The acting in this production is strong and delightful. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a story of capers and misadventures within 3 plot-lines that overlap as they unfold. UDM’s adaptation is classic Shakespeare even with the gender bending.
UDM’s Midsummer Night captures the rage of unrequited love that causes these characters to go to extremes. Be ready for lots of pushing, shoving and comical declarations of despair. Hermia and Helena circle each other in a dance like fashion as they verbally assault each other. In another scene, a convincingly stalking Helena, is anguished from not being loved back by Demetrius, who instead loves with Hermia who in turn dismisses him with the strongest words. Demetrius cannot peel Helena off fast enough and the vile language he hurls at her still does not deter Helena. Hermia, played by Zoe Brown, does not love Demetrius. She loves Lysander but is being forced to marry him by Egeus, played by Pricia Hicok. Lysander and Hermia run away to the forest and Helena follows behind dragging Demetrius with her.
Mason Modzelewski plays Puck, the mischievous fairy, with impish nimbleness, his body scampering and darting as he fulfills his master’s commands and plays tricks on people. However, Puck mistakenly sprinkles magic flower juice on Lysander, making her fall in love with Helena, played by Jade Michael Sibert. He also does this to Demetrius, Helena’s object of affection, making him not only change his mind about Helena, but become crazed for her affection. Now, Helena has two suitors when before she had none. Hilarity ensues as Helena is convinced that it’s all a cruel trick, and lashes out at both of her admirers as well as at her friend Hermia for double-crossing her on this way.
When Puck comes across a group of men rehearsing a the tragic love story of Pyramus and Thisbe to present to the Duke on his wedding day, he plays a trick on them. Andrewy Guay shines as Nick Bottom who takes on the role of Pyramus. Trickster Puck gives Bottom the head of an ass, which frightens off the other workers. Oberon then lures Bottom to the sleeping Queen who has been overcome by Puck’s magic flower juice and upon waking falls mad for the hideous Bottom, to the delight of Oberon who is punishing Titiana for not handing over to him a magical child that he would like to use as his page.
Magic and mishap weaves their way through this comedy. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at the University of Detroit, McNichols Campus, Marlene Boll Theatre February 2nd and February 7th through the 9th. Catch the magic before it disappears!