Review by Spenser Smith of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: NKU Theatre
To say the plot of Midsummer is convoluted would be an understatement. We follow (or don’t) simultaneous action throughout, yet the brisk-paced production now on stage at Northern Kentucky University is sure to delight.
The action begins with a wedding. What else? It’s Shakespeare. Theseus (Brandon Critchfield) and Hippolyta (Shalie Hull) are due to marry but one wedding just wouldn’t do. Egeus (Emily Borst) is a local nobleman and states his intent that his daughter Hermia (Leiren Jackson) will marry Demetrius (Caleb Farley) but Hermia has her eyes set on Lysander (Elliot Handkins). No matter the proclamation, Hermia and Lysander plan to escape and marry the following night. Everything ends happily ever after, right? End of scene. Well, at least the first one.
Hermia and Lysander go to tell Helena (Sarah Hack) of their plan to flee but Helena is still in love with Lysander, who left her to be with Hermia. Awkwarrrrrd. Helena tells Demetrius that Lysander is after his girl and now we’ve got a mess. Still with me?
As one does in times of trouble, the soon-to-be spell-crossed lovers escape to the forest where we meet the travelling troupe of performers employed to entertain Theseus’ wedding party. Nick Bottom (James Hummeldorf) is the star of the troupe and gives a performance straight out of “Waiting for Guffman”. He spends much of the play with (let’s call it) limited visibility, so kudos to him. Each member of the troupe has their own quirk. It becomes particularly entertaining during their performance for the wedding party at the end of the play. George Ivan has a hysterical turn as Flute.
Also in the forest is the mischievous troupe of fairies led by King Oberon (Kaleb King), Queen Titania (Sydney Kline) and our narrator Puck (Kearston Hawkins-Johnson). I really enjoyed the interaction of the fairies. They are ever-moving and always connected. Fluid is the word that came to my mind. They are also employed to give us a sense of flight and the creative idea works well.
Director Brian Robertson does a great job keeping the pace fast enough to keep our attention yet moderate enough that we can understand what’s going on. Aside from a lengthy fairy speech, pace and volume are great despite those heavy curtains. Director Robertson also serves as the Fight Director for the show and it is very evident time was spent rehearsing the shows very well-executed fight sequences. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a really great stage slap! The suggestive curtains and pillars by Costume/Scenic Designer Ronnie Chamberlain that are rearranged to change setting are just enough, yet give us plenty of space for the large cast to play. Original music composed and played by Alena Firlie and George Ivan is another treat this show has to offer.
Midsummer continues at the Corbett Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through October 8.
For tickets, call 859-572-5464 or visit nku.edu/sotatickets