A Smart Mixture of ‘Midsummer’ comedy

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most revered comedies.  It’s been done in nearly every time period in many different ways, yet Missouri Western’s production smartly mixes some modern comedy elements with a unique setting to give it new life.

The first act of the play sets up the three groups whose stories will inevitably intertwine.  The lovers represent a teenage drama, with two men, Demetrius and Lysander, loving one woman, Hermia, and a second woman, Helena, receiving no attention.

The mechanicals are a group of salt-of-the-earth workers who are tasked with putting on a play for the duke and duchess to celebrate their marriage.  In all honesty, they represent the pure comedy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Their antics as well as their incredible chemistry make for some hilarious situations that will have you laughing throughout the entirety of the play.

Finally, the fairies represent a supernatural element; constantly influencing the other two groups through magic.  It’s their constant interference that makes for the outrageous situations that each group will find themselves in.

Now, it’s important to note, this is a Shakespeare play.  There are some rather long monologues and a few confusing word choices that, in their time, were meant to be funny, but are just a bit hard to interpret here.  For those unfamiliar with a Midsummer Night’s Dream, you might have a bit of trouble getting all of the details of the story.  After the first act, though, you’ll get a general sense of what’s happening for the most part.

Truthfully, the situations that each group finds themselves in just aren’t as funny as they probably were back in the day.  What was originally funny about the play was how chaotic each situation eventually became.  Characters reach their boiling points and lose control quickly.  However, we have seen this in many films before, and done in better ways.  Therefore, some of the comedy is lost.

Many of the characters do a wonderful job in their respective roles, but Sebastion Smith, who plays Nick Bottom, is a highlight along with his merry mechanicals.  Smith’s enthusiastic spirit and, what his character thinks are, witty remarks are great.  He shows much enthusiasm throughout his time on stage; offsetting some of the longer speeches made by a few of the characters.

Luckily, director Dallas Henry added some modern day comedy bits that help to break up the monologues.  These moments are simply genius and there’s one scene towards the end of the play that exemplifies “hilarious.”

If you haven’t seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you may be a bit lost at first regarding the plot, but it’s certainly worth seeing.  The ending scenes alone are worth paying the price for admission.

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