A Midsummer Night’s Dream by The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA
November 6, 2018
Review submitted by Ke Ran (Lavender) Huang of Baldwin School
One couple escaped for love and another in the pursuit of love. An erroneous prank that may blind or brighten their eyes. Episcopal Academy explores the truth behind love with the classic, Shakesperian comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night‘s Dream starts with Lysander and Hermia running away because they are star-crossed lovers. Demetrius is on a hunt for them, followed by his admirer, Helena. The forest spirit Oberon sends his servant Puck to help the young lovers, but he ends up pairing the wrong people together. Lysander and Demetrius both fall in love with Helena. But eventually, the wrongs are corrected, and all the events of the evening seem like a dream to the lovers.
The overall production was a great success. The talented actors performed tremendously on the beautiful sets and with the original music. The choice of contemporary setting was made compatible by the amazing actors, and the show is definitely not one to miss.
The four lovers lead the storyline of the show, they dramatized a comedic yet charming love story. McKee Bond especially delights the show with his entertaining part of Demetrius, who is unwillingly followed by Helena. The lead actors were especially enthusiastic.
Phoebe Barr, in the role of Puck, brought the whole show together, while Arnav Shiva in the role of Nick Bottom made the audience weep with his hilarious performance. The fairies, led by Tina Ying as the Titania the fairy queen, added a romantic element to the show with their beautiful and fascinating dance.
Apart from the actors, the technical aspects were the focal point of the whole show. Original music was played by Olivia Cipperman, Alex Peters, and Naomi Hyman – all onstage. The lights designed by Laura Patterson, faded in and out with the scenes, and these created patterns that contributed to the mood. The spotlight on the musicians at the start of the scene was a great pleasure for the eyes.
With a romantic atmosphere, artistic sets, and talented actors, Episcopal Academy beautifully unfolded a true fairytale and that left the audience with a joyous dream, a sprinkle of laughter decorated by perhaps a question of what true love means.
Review submitted by Katrina Conklin of Baldwin School
Walking into the Episcopal Academy’s black box was at first disorienting: the theater had been completely transformed into an enchanted forest, with greenery sprouting from every corner as if it had grown there. By the time the lights dimmed and the music began, the audience found themselves transported into the world of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Written in the late sixteenth century by William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream chronicles a mysterious series of events that occur deep within the woods outside of Athens. Fates intertwine among four lovesick youths in a whimsical fairy kingdom, and a ragtag group of working-class men attempting to rehearse a play. At the center of the chaos is the lovably mischievous Puck, who brings the parties together with his supernatural powers.
As a whole, the production was a delight to watch. Through the actors’ intense physicality and comedic timing, Shakespeare’s famous comedy was brought to life.
The four lovers, played by Jacob Viscusi (Lysander), McKee Bond (Demetrius), Cerena Robertson (Hermia), and Bryce Nabulsi (Helena), were a highlight of the performance, executing grueling fight scenes that were a thrill to watch. The four actors each brought their very best to the stage.
By far the most memorable comedic performance came from the Rude Mechanicals, who stole the show(s) with their zealous effort to perform for the Duke of Athens and his wife. Leading the pack was Arnav Shiva as the scatterbrained Nick Bottom. He induced roars of laughter from the audience with his cartoonish demeanor. Other ensemble standouts included Christian Mandeville as the tinker Tom Snout, who pours his heart into the role of The Wall; Will Hopkins, as the bellows-mender Francis Flute, portrays the Mechanicals’ heroine with reluctant hilarity.
Though Midsummer is one of Shakespeare’s most widely performed comedies, the technical components of Episcopal’s show ensured that this production was unlike any other. Student musicians bolstered the performance with subtle yet effective melodies, and the original compositions “Enter the Fairies” and “The Fairy Lullaby” added other layers of creativity to the performance. Transitions between scenes were practically seamless, which is the hallmark of a superb stage crew— allowing for the magic of the woods to come to life.
Performing Shakespeare is typically difficult, yet Episcopal beautifully halted reality for two hours with their captivating production.