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Review: Studio 58’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Oberon and Puck 3
Dominic Duchesne (Oberon) and Lili Beaudoin (Puck)
Photo: Tammy English

Chances are you read this one in high school.

Even if you didn’t, you probably know the gist. It’s the one with woodland nymphs, a play-within-a-play, and a manipulative sprite named Puck who messes with the romantic lives of humans at the bidding of Oberon, the fairy king.

Or maybe for you, it’s “the one with the donkey.”

In this adaptation, director Scott Bellis sets the play in Romania, traditional home of Dracula.

The fairies are vampires, Oberon is king of the undead, and the rustics are a traveling Roma community.

A spooky adaptation 

The makeup is sharp, with white-on-white costumes and blood-drained complexions, the vampire fairies are effectively creepy, to say nothing of their staging and movement.

The cast is almost uniformly strong. Lili Beaudoin’s physicality as Puck is perfect.

Lauren Jackson, as Hermia, speaks the text as naturally as though she may order breakfast in iambic pentameter.

Maxamillian Wallace, as Quince, the long-suffering leader of his troupe makes a hilarious straight man to Bottom, a needy show-off who in Erik Gow’s hands becomes an endearing charmer.

A director’s note in the program warns, “Purists take note: I have adapted some scenes for our darker purposes.”

The bulk of the adaptation works well but some of it is distracting. The zombies (you knew there had to be) are superfluous, serving only to move set pieces and to be pummeled – however crowd-pleasingly so – in a scene of ticked-off girl power.

And the darker tone of the middle acts, set in a woodland beset with the undead and vampiric spirits, makes the finale – a truly delightful, laugh-riot of intentionally bad acting – a bit jarring.

But unless you’re a purist, and a hard-core one at that, you’ll have fun.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at Langara till Oct. 20.

Reported by Tammy English

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