Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream @ The Polonsky Shakespeare Center @ The Theatre for New Audience

Julie Taymor makes her return to the New York stage since her family raved, critically acclaimed travesty Spider-Man Turn of the Dark, with the Theater for New Audiences production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream brilliantly conjoins four intertwined stories: the marriage of the Athenian Duke Theseus to the Amazon queen Hippolyta; the warring Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies; the madcap follies of four lovers in a forest; and the comically earnest efforts of a group of working men to stage a love-play for the royal wedding. Lysander loves Hermia, whose father wants her to marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, who chases the eloping Lysander and Hermia into the woods, pursued by Helena. They are all fair game for mischievous Puck, Oberon’s servant, who scrambles their desires and Titania’s. As the working men press faithfully on with their rehearsals, the otherworldly night of confusion, passion and diligence proves oddly momentous, touching every life to the quick.

There is no doubt about the fact that Julie Taymor had a hand in this extravagant production - technically brilliant, iconic animal work, and stranger than you can believe. Taymor is the only person who can turn Shakespeare's most magical play into a haunted encounter that will inspire goosebumps. By using an ensemble of children for the spirits, fairies and the forest, she was able to create interactive staging, turning something usually farcical and bright to something dark and bone chilling. The special effect of modernizing and exaggerating the character's jobs by drawing parallels from the "then" age to the "this" age kept the humor flowing and a lightness to this otherwise dark adaptation of the Bard's play. Taymor has surely redeemed herself.

Olivier Award winning Kathryn Hunter leads the cast as Puck. Hunter is glorious, fun, and flexible in more ways than one. Dressed in vaudevillian garb, she delivers a performance that is hard to top. David Harewood and Tina Benko, provide a near perfect portrayal of Oberon and Titania. Max Casella is the clear stand out of the cast as he takes on the taxing transforming role of Bottom. Casella is alluring, hysterical and engaging.

A Midsummer Night's Dream officially opened at the Theater for New Audiences on November 2, 2013 and is running through January 12, 2014. Don't miss out on this beautifully haunting original interpretation.

Photos by: Josef Astor
Review by: James Russo

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