[This is a review of the Friday and Saturday night productions, not the Thursday night production. SPOILERS for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.]
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.”
William Shakespeare’s famous comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream recently came to MBHS. Students performed it nightly in the quad from January 27th to 29th. It was Ms. Kostecka’s directorial debut, the school’s first drama production in three years – and sheer magic. It’s of course brilliantly written with constant Shakespearean wit and emotion, but it’s how the student ensemble brings this play to life that makes A Midsummer’s Night Dream so special.
One subplot in the play finds a troupe of eccentric, oddball actors rehearsing a play to be performed for Theseus (the Athenian king, played commandingly by Lucas Huss). Among them, a bearded man forced to play a high-pitched woman (Trason League) and a shy girl in the role of a wall (Sofia Steen). The dynamic of the characters is a humorous high-point in the original Shakespeare production, captured by the actors inimitably, especially by Nina Bargatze who plays Nick Bottom. Bargatze as Bottom, a flamboyant weaver whose passion for theater is unmatched by his fellow actors, is constantly shouting extravagant, grinning quips to the audience that had everyone in tears. Her delivery never fails to milk every ounce of comedic potential out of the source material, making for an exceedingly funny and impressive performance.
Meanwhile, Theseus orders that Hermia (Tru Forster) be married to Demetrius (Angus McNellie). Hermia does not wish to do so, and runs away with her lover Lysander (Charlie Fryer) to the forest, where Demetrius follows them. Hermia’s friend Helena (Valerie Merson) follows Demetrius, whom she loves. The four-way dynamic of these Athenians is one of the most notably complex parts of the source material, but the actors nail it with lots of screaming, but also plenty of subtlety. From Merson’s distress and hints of jealousy, to McNellie and Fryer’s fickle lability and Forster’s emotional versatility that reminds one of a mime, the four’s dynamic comes to an emotional climax – the play’s best scene where Forster can be seen jumping across the stage.
Both the acting troupe and Athenian lovers encounter a cohort of fairies. The fairy king Oberon (Cooper Huss) is having a feud with his queen Titania (Anastasia Dilworth), turning Bottom’s head into that of a donkey and uses a potion to make Titania fall in love with Bottom. Dilworth conveys both grace and power very well, only elevated by her wide-eyed fairy companions (Rae Ruane, Siena Shipcott, Quin Quinto) whose intermission raffle was a nice touch. Dilworth and Quinto also have to pretend to be asleep for nearly thirty minutes – no easy task! Concomitantly, Oberon interferes with the Athenian lovers, wishing for their dysfunction to be resolved.
Huss is phenomenal, his command of the stage is unparalleled whether it be via a furious monologue or wicked chuckle. The grandiose he exhibits is akin to Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth, a gargantuan Shakespearean performance that ranked among the best of 2021. However, it’s perhaps Adelaide Burgess as Puck, Oberon’s mischievous servant who interferes with the Athenians and Titania on his behalf, who is the standout. The fast-talking, mischievous Puck has the most complex dialogue in the play, and yet Burgess never misses a beat. She is constantly sprinting across the stage or through the audience; hunching and grinning while delivering an enthrallingly roguish monologue.
One simply cannot deny that the ensemble Ms. Kostecka casted for A Midsummer Night’s Dream was wonderful. Everyone is always acting, working as a team to evoke the desired emotion. They mastered countless complex lines, pushing through minor production issues such as microphone glitches on Friday and falling props on Saturday. The production design itself is also excellent, the lighting and props and costumes were all meticulously built and evoked a nice tone. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the strongest possible return to form for the MBHS Drama Program. The Spyglass looks forward to seeing what they do next.