WEB EXCLUSIVE: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ not a bore

Matthew Carroll

Here’s a quick word association test:

William Shakespeare

If you responded with old, boring and/or Gwyneth Paltrow, then we have a thing or two in common. So when I found out that I would be going to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Cleveland Playhouse, my first response was definitely not to invite all of my friends over for a high-five party. Fortunately for me, I’m rarely right.

This particular version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is billed as a slightly more modern twist on the original.

And by “modern”, I mean 1920s modern, not Kirsten Dunst / Get Over It modern. Actually, the only reference to the time change is the fact that the characters were dressed in 1920-style clothing instead of the traditional Shakespearean garb.

All the original lines are still in tact, with the real difference coming in the way the cast interprets those lines. The blundering fairy, Puck, is portrayed in full sex kitten mode by the beautiful Elizabeth A. Davis.

The main characters of Helena, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander are played by Nicole Fitzpatrick, Jason Miller, Kimberly Weston and Tom White, respectively, as lust-driven teenagers instead of love-struck adults. By the end of the play, they are lying in woods half naked and straddling each other.

Despite a very minimalist stage setup – a forest background was used throughout the whole thing – I was immediately drawn into the play. The cast brought a genuineness and humor to the characters they played that made the play hugely entertaining.

Not to mention the fact that they made a 20-year-old male who missed seeing the Cavs game to see their play enjoy Shakespeare, which is no small feat.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is part of the Cleveland Playhouse/Case Western Reserve University Joint Professional Actor Training Program and features student actors from around the country who are in the Third-Year Master of Fine Arts Program at Case Western.

The play will be running through this weekend at the Brooks Theatre in the Cleveland Playhouse.

Contact ALL correspondent Matthew Carroll at [email protected].