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LA Theater Review
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Populated by fairies, rough Athenian tradesmen, young lovers, and nobility, Shakespeare's story is chock-full of invention. Fairies who are more pop rock than Elizabethan are colorfully clad by Nephelie Andonyadis to fit contemporary choreography, as imagined by Ken Roht with original music by John Ballinger and Roht. The other characters are dressed, or undressed, as the play progresses in similarly clever garments.
Elijah Alexander and Susannah Schulman are double-cast as Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania, and they delightfully inhabit Rucker's modern and fantasy personae. The young lovers Hermia (Kathleen Early), Helena (Dana Green), Demetrius (Tobie Windham), and Lysander (Nick Gabriel) carry out their romantic complications zealously. Puck/Philostrate (Rob Campbell) is a strange piece of work. His phlegmatic nature is in stark contrast to the usual sprightly characterizations done by many theater companies. Costumed in one boot, one high heel, and a toga-like skirt, he shambles about like a cool dude left over from the 1960s.
His fellow fairies—played by Ryan Jones, Emmett Lee Stang, Rudy Martinez, Jordan Bellow, Dylan DoVale, Jaycob Hunter, and Jennifer Stang—are a hip group engaging in youthful, energetic dance numbers and acrobatics. The rude mechanicals—played by Hal Landon Jr., Patrick Kerr, Michael Manuel, William Francis McGuire, John-David Keller, and Richard Doyle—are easily up to the comedic tasks required for the story of Pyramus and Thisbe.
A Rucker production is worth the ticket price. Not without flaws, this rendition challenges the commonplace and would probably garner Shakespeare's approval for its lively execution.
Presented by and at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa. Jan. 29–Feb. 20. Tue.–Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. (714) 708-5555. www.scr.org.
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