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Friday, December 7, 2012

The Shakespeare Forum's Premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Last night I went to see the premiere of The Shakespeare Forum's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in New York City.

I am not a critic, nor do I write reviews for a living, so far be it from me to criticize this performance.

All I can say is that I enjoyed it immensely!

The cast was excellent and full of energy, as they commanded the playing space -- there was no stage as it were and they freely moved in and among the audience, often engaging them directly!  It was hilarious when Puck landed next to me to watch the show for a minute!

The choice of space was brilliant since it created an energy I think not unlike the Globe in London today -- and definitely like the way that Shakespeare himself and his fellow actors would have interacted with their audience 400 years ago. To borrow a phrase, this interaction creates a "complicity" between the actors and the audience.

And just as I am sure that Shakespeare's audience was thrilled with the interplay -- the audience I was with last night was laughing the whole way through.

I was also stunned that the play was so fast -- just about 2 hours! I have heard of performances running to 3 hours, so I was pleased that this production was so fast-paced and funny.

I had the pleasure of watching a rehearsal for this show recently, and it was fun to watch the actors and the director try to discover as many moments and gags. And all that work paid off, it was terrific to see the finished product, the result of all of that work.

The actors were great! It is rare that I see a show where the actors work together so well, and support each other. Each and every one of them obviously takes great delight in what they are doing, and their excitement is infectious.

After the show, there was a Question and Answer session, where the audience could ask questions of the actors and vice versa. One of the questions raised was whether the lack of set design detracted from the play. I don't think it did. I think the clean and simple space allowed you to focus on the actors, and their wonderful performances. And the excellent costumes immediately signaled where you were in the play, at court or in the woods.

It also made me think of what it would have been like in Shakespeare's time, and in those days you did not go to see a play -- you went to "hear" a play. The best seats in the Elizabethan theaters were above and behind the stage, where you couldn't see the actors very well, but it was where the acoustics were the best. The word "audience" in fact is derived from the Latin "audentia" from which we also get audio, auditorium, etc.

I strongly recommend that you go see this show -- it runs through the 16th of December.

And finally, congratulations to Tyler Moss, the Artistic Director, and Sybille Bruun, the Executive Director -- and everyone at The Shakespeare Forum for an excellent show!

I look forward to seeing more Shakepeare from them in the future!


Cheers,

David

Related Article:

The Shakespeare Forum