Theater Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at NAT

A cast of 20 fine actors under the direction of Tony Vezner enliven Shakespeare’s fantasy of fairy kings and queens, a mischievous faun, and lovers fated to be the victims of a magic potion. Always a challenge, the work of Shakespeare can only be truly appreciated when we hear the subtle meanings of language inherent in his plays.

Compared to the genre of his drama, the comedy becomes a light-hearted experience. Midsummer is the perfect example. The four lovers become entangled in a plot by Oberon (David Causey) to so enchant Titania (Amy Caldwell) as she slumbers that on awakening, she falls in love with the one she first sees. Erik Uppling, the hilarious Nick Bottom and with the head of an ass, becomes the unintentional love.

Gerson Dacanay is Puck, tripping across the stage on cleverly designed hooves. Alan Williams’ costumes create both comedy and elegance. Marissa Noel Swanson as Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, changes from a gun-toting Wonder Woman to the elegant Queen gowned in white satin. Cleverest of all are the costumes of the Rustics. Gordon Odegard becomes a dull-witted workman clad in overalls, then a lion right out of Oz. Multi-roles are only possible when a designer with the talent of Williams uses costume as the metaphor for a character.

Gerson Dacanay makes his first appearance at NAT in the current production. His obvious training and experience are apparent. Flitting from here to there, he is a joy to watch. He must have a background in dance and gymnastics. Puck has never been portrayed so well.

In three acts, Midsummer is not for the impatient, but it is extremely well paced, and there is not a dull moment. Act Three with the performance of the Rustics before royalty is slapstick at its best. Timing is everything.

Martin McClendon’s return to Rockford is a bonus for our theaters. Actor, director and set designer, his work epitomizes the finest in professional theater. In December, he played a touching role in Artist Ensemble’s Greetings, and designing the set for NAT, he uses a multiplicity of ideas. From the “under construction” opening to the gauzy fabric that enhanced a magic forest, McClendon is a master. The final scene, the Greek court, incorporated classic Greek art with translucent panels that, when lit from behind, revealed Oberon, Titania and their retinue. McClendon directs a production of The Miser in Rockford College’s Cheek Theatre running Feb. 23-25.

Midsummer runs through Feb. 26, and tickets can be purchased by calling 964-6282. Also coming up is Night of Stars—A Night in Old Havana at the Ramada Suites, 270 S. Bell School Rd., Feb. 17.

From the Feb. 15-21, 2006, issue

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