The Cougar Chronicle

Review: Arts engagement program rejuvenates a classic Shakespearean comedy

Dylan McCall, Assistant Entertainment Editor

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The Globe for All’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a hilarious and interactive interpretation of Shakespeare’s original work. While they stay true to Shakespearean language, the cast and crew brought touches of the modern world into their performance with well-timed music, sounds, modern jokes and costuming.

 

The Globe for All is an Arts Engagement Program created by the Old Globe theatre company. This shortened version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was directed by Patricia McGregor and has been on tour since Oct. 30, CSUSM being it’s 12th stop.

 

Everyone was encouraged to make a Magical Tree, which was used in the performance later on as background to the forest.

 

Chairs were set up around the main acting stage in a box shape with aisles in the corner for the actors to walk through. While the setup allowed for a more interactive and fun performance, it restricted some people’s view of the actors which caused many to miss some of the comedic dialogue. I couldn’t see when someone would enter behind me or when they would sit in reserved chairs they used.

 

From the start of the play, you could see how the cast and crew made it their own. I thought it was a skilled balancing act of modern personality and classic Shakespeare. The audience was laughing and gasping along with me.

 

Starting with the entrance of the Duke of Athens, Theseus and Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, the other seven cast members acted as their own royal paparazzi, flashing cameras and screaming headlines at them. Something that obviously wasn’t in the original play.

 

From then on, I tried finding everything that was different from the original, which ended up being more than I thought it would have been. It was hilarious when the cast members would mention San Marcos or respond in modern way like screaming “aye” when excited. The audience noticed these modern approaches and would scream “aye” or “yes” back.

 

The music was well-timed with the action, I couldn’t help but laugh harder. The sound designer and DJ Miki Vale did an amazing job crafting the scenic harmony. From magical theme music for the forest to dramatic bass for more tense moments, I felt transported to the scene in real time.

 

Another interesting part of the play was that the changing rooms were all around us. When the actors had to switch characters they would run down the corner aisles and quickly swap clothes then hop back into the scene when needed.

 

Although, it was distracting sometimes when I would see the actors, for instance, portraying humans change into fairy clothing but nonetheless it offered great insight into the wardrobe changes of an actor.

 

The audience found it interesting too, watching the crew and cast frantically throw a huge palm leaf on their backs or watching the Queen of Fairies being lifted onto the fairies shoulders. We made sure to tell our neighbors of the wardrobe change.

 

Speaking of wardrobe, the costuming was more modern too, at least for most of the characters. It attracted me because it felt like something I would wear. After the first few characters came on after the Duke and Queen, many pointed at the actors simpler look, compared to classical

Shakespeare wardrobe. They were either wearing their Old Globe jackets, for those who played the actors, or something a little nicer like a button down shirt or a cardigan.

 

The cast did an amazing job differentiating between the multiple characters they played. Whether it was a change in voice or posture, they each worked very hard on their character performances and it paid off. With every twist and turn, I followed the actors through every performance.

 

I could see the personality of each actor and character. The dance montage at the end, for instance, had everyone cheering and wanting more. Their acting decisions led to an uplifting ending and standing ovation.

 

Overall, I was thoroughly invested from start to finish and was pleased with the mechanics and skill the cast and crew presented.

 

I would recommend to anyone interested in or thinking about theatre to go to https://www.theoldglobe.org/ for information.

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