Penny Metropulos' production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is wild, mystical, and probably the funniest "Dream" I've ever seen. Forget a subtle, sweet, and retiring Helena. Mhari Sandoval is a not so little hellcat as she goes after Demetrius, then later attacks both him and Lysander for what she thinks is their sudden mocking of her, thanks to Puck's mistakes. Puck, the usually mischievous sprite, is downright demonic in this one. Ray Porter has always been one of the best comic actors in the Ashland Company, and as Puck, he doesn't really seem to care if he has just screwed everything up by rubbing Oberon's potion in Lysander's eyes instead of Demetrius'. He simply points out to Oberon that he told him to put it in the eyes of the guy "dressed un Athenian clothing," which he did, and if it was the wrong one, it's your fault. Then he goes on his merry way.
We first meet Puck during the first of many storms. The set consists of blue-gray walls with doors cut in them at various heights. The wind howls, the doors flap open and shut, along with trap doors in the floor, and one opens at the rear with orange flashes of light. The commanding presence of Puck steps out and cooly surveys the scene. We get gold flashing light, fire, and smoke for Oberon. The doorways are full of fairies as they flap open. Titania enters in a glass cage. She comes out , and after she goes to sleep, the fairies all cower in the cage, as Oberon casts his spell on Titania. Puck comes along, and, with a shrug, lets them out.
David Kelly's Bottom is outrageous as he's turned into the ass. This rather musical Puck plays him like a jazz bass as Titania awakes and falls in love with him. As he sleeps under Puck's spell, Puck takes off his ass' ears, takes out his front teeth, then as he starts to leave, turns back and puts a quarter under Bottom's pillow for the teeth. Jonathan Adams' Oberon is really a warm, kindly character. He disapproves of Puck's mistake with Lysander, but is much more patient with him than usual. He seems genuinely concerned with everyone's well-being. As long as things go well he seems to tolerate a god deal of mischief, especially Puck's. The Players are absolutely outrageous. Robynn Rodriguez cross dressed as Quince came off as one of the strangest and funniest characters in the play. As Mark Murphey's Egeus complains about the play Puck keeps tweaking him down before Oberon and Titania sing a beautiful duet, Puck sings a song, and he is left alone sweeping up the bedroom set that opens the play. In a grand gesture, he sweeps it all under the bed, and the curtain falls on this tremedously entertaining "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in The Angus Bowmer Theaer at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. It runs through November 1, along with "Uncle Vanya," "A Touch of the Poet," and The School For Scandal."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival 98
Henry IV Pt.1
| Comedy of Errors
| Measure for Measure
| Touch of the Poet
| Sailing to Byzantium
Midsummer Night's Dream | School for Scandal | Uncle Vanya | OSF Commentary