A Midsummer Night’s Dream, circa 1594, is still on stage. That’s Will Shakespeare, of course, and this is the play to go see. It’s still funny.
The Sacramento Theatre Company has trotted out this classic for two and a half hours of silliness for all ages. Half way through is a nice 20 minute break for refreshments and a stroll in the gracious courtyard. Even children can follow the plot, and the whole family will enjoy the mix-ups.
If you’re not familiar with the plot, it goes as follows: Titania and Hippolyta are about to wed. They are the royals near Athens. Then four young Athenians (two couples) go into the Woods where “rude mechanicals” (uneducated laborers) are rehearsing a play called Pyramus and Thisbe. And of course there’s a playful Puck (played in the original film version in 1935 by Mickey Rooney when he was a young, active, child). All this gets mixed up with spells until the beautiful Hippolyta is in love with a male workman turned into a donkey. Lots of fun!
Now on to the Sacramento Theatre Company production…Same plot as above, same play, different cast, and same woods…For those of us who have followed some of the players at the S.T.C., it’s good to see reliable Matt K. Miller as Bottom as Pyramus. Bottom wants to play all the parts in the play so Miller has a lot of fun interrupting the play rehearsal with his take on how to act each part. Close with scene-stealing fun is Brent Bianchini who not only reads lines well — he also does a flip. The audience went wild with applause.
And there are some charming ladies in the cast who get to be very playful as the story moves along. Carolyn Howarth, Elizabeth Holzman, and Melanie Marshall are having lots of fun quick-changing costumes from one character to another. The whole play with its army of characters is played by a total of nine actors, so there are lots of costume changes for lots of characters.
Michael R.J. Campbell, Troy Thomas, Anthony Person, and Jason Oler fill out the fun-loving cast with their quick costume changes, and all seem to be having the time of their lives.
The Traffic Cop in charge of all the running about and tumbling is director Christine Nicholson. Nicholson did a fine job of giving all “The Nine” lots of “business” and no one stood around for more than a few seconds. The set had the recessed playhouse in the Old Globe Theatre tradition. It wasn’t easy to keep the blocking clear in that little playhouse up stage. Congrats go to Nicholson. Thank you.
Another “thank you” goes to Costume Designer Jessica Minnihan who solved the donkey head problem. Often, a full head is used so the actor’s face cannot be seen and often his voice cannot be heard well. Minnihan designed two very festive ears with ribbons so Bottom’s face was always visible.
Lighting Designer Jessica Bertine came up with some very magical sky effects. They were way up stage behind the play house but they were very noticeable and pretty as the play should have.
The talented Scenic Designer, Anna Katharine Mantz, did a great job with the sets. The phases of the moon on the play house was a nice touch. It’s not easy to design a set that allows so many locations all on the same set. Using the Globe Theatre solution was a good choice.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through March 24, 2013 with show times Wed & Thurs 12:30pm & 6:30pm; Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 2pm. Call (916) 443-6722 for tickets or purchase online. The theatre is located in a charming part of downtown Sacramento at 14th and H Streets. There seems to be plenty of parking on the street.
By Ruth Chambers (“Grateful in the Aisle Seat”), a guest writer for Sacramento365.com.