Before the Boy and I started dating, I would never have guessed that I would find a guy who was as into theater as I was. As a giant theater nerd all my life – who acted in school productions, attended Shakespeare Theater and musical performances whenever I had the chance, took classes about theater (as English Lit credits instead of as theater), who wrote a silly website about being “Shakespeare’s Wife” as a middle schooler…I’d be hard pressed to find someone more enthusiastic than me. But the Boy…he gets emails for shows and says “We should do this!”, and so who am I to say no?
Our most recent show was the Folger Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and we had the pleasure of being joined by my brother Ben and his lady-friend. We all grabbed a quick dinner (literally, less than an hour, didn’t get our food until 7:08 or so) at Hawk’n’Dove, and then booking it to the theater to get our tickets from will call. Except we actually didn’t need to run so fast because it turns out one of the leads (Hippolyta/Titania) was unavailable at the last moment, and so we all had to wait for the understudy to put on costume and makeup…meaning we could have sat and enjoyed our beers and food a little longer instead of having to chug. Drat.
In case you haven’t read this play, seen any adaptation, and have generally been living under a rock for 400 years, AMND is about 2 pairs of lovers who get lost in the woods and experience hijinks and misunderstanding due to the fairies who are currently residing there; the king playing a prank on the queen because she has something he wants; a troupe of (unintentionally) comic actors practicing a play for the wedding of the human king; and the about to be married king and queen. It’s a lot to take in when written as such, but really it’s a great story.
The lovers story is amusing, and played well by the cast, but as much as they are the A plot of the play, they’re really not the most interesting or creative story. The best scene occurs in the middle of the show when all 4 lovers appear on stage, and begin their quarrel. The volleying of insults, the chasing and the reaction from the men who seem to have never witnessed a “cat fight” before in their lives is highly amusing.
But perhaps the best character in the show is Puck – a fairy who works for the fairy king. Puck is mischievous and likes to have fun with all those around him, making trouble wherever he goes. I say he, because even though Puck doesn’t necessarily have a gender, Puck has traditionally been played by men. But in this production, the part was played by the amazingly expressive, athletic Erin Weaver. In addition to her traditionally bouncy and sprightly duties, Weaver also performs sleight of hand that works very in the story.
Vying for the role of “best character is Holly Twyford as Bottom. Another set of roles that are traditionally male – those of the actors in the play-within-a-play – were nearly all given to women, and Twyford’s Bottom, while not the best Bottom I’ve ever seen (har-har) was very good. She is enthusiastic, helpful, and yet attention seeking – reminding me of a Molly Shannon or Kristen Wiig-type of character off SNL. The way that Bottom’s transformation into an ass takes place is made more complete and female-oriented, as the heel-less hoof shoes worn during those scenes could really only be someone who is used to wearing heels and walking around on their toes. Something most men do not have a lot of experience with.
It’s a great show, and definitely worth your time and money. The only time I was taken out of the experience was the song at the end which felt cheesy to me, but other members of my party enjoyed it. So to each their own. But you will definitely enjoy yourself.
Details: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, through March 13.