Shakespeare’s Magic at the Soda Fountain
Since the play deals with magic, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream sparks extreme creativity in any director. Darren Loy’s Young Shakespeare Workshop’s production, which debuted in Volunteer Park this past weekend, was no exception; the show abounded with creativity as well as excellent performances by this cast of juvenile actors.
First of all, all the actors could handle the language, they made it come alive, conveyed the meaning to the audience while being heard clearly and distinctly. This is indeed an accomplishment for any director, as there are many professional shows in town where the actors can barely be heard and can’t make sense of Shakespeare. N.B. Everyone in the show is a veteran of at least one summer of an intense Shakespeare workshop and then spends the next summer in intensive seven week-long rehearsals for a performance. The training of the actors certainly paid off in a much better than average performance for Shakespeare in Seattle.
Although the setting is supposed to be ancient Athens, the director chose to set it in mid- 20th Century America complete with early rock n’ roll music and costuming. In the woods, the “mechanicals” Bottom, Snug, Peter Quince, Snout, Flute and Starveling rehearse in a soda fountain right out of American Graffiti with costumes to match, which frankly were so funny I nearly fell out of my camping chair with laughter. Theseus, the King of Athens was decked out in Italian Fascist costume, with Hippolyta in black and the mortals all wore 50’s clothes in interesting color schemes.
There were some stunning performances by the actors who played Bottom, Puck, Lysander, Egeus and Snout the tinker as Wall. The play within a play, The Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisby was high amusing, very cleverly and precisely directed and a joy to watch.
This show was one of the high points of the Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival, l as it demonstrated that training, hard work, and creativity really does pay off. It was performed under a grove a cedar trees, so it could not have had a better natural setting.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare in the Park. Young Shakespeare Workshop. ( A non-profit tuition-free organization which trains young actors) For schedule: youngshakespeare.org