Red Deer College’s season opener a delightful charmer

There’s plenty of magic, romance and fun packed into Red Deer College’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Theatre Studies department’s rendition of the delightful Shakespeare classic runs tonight through Saturday evening in Studio A with curtain at 7:30 p.m. A matinee runs Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. as well.

‘Magic, mischief, mayhem and madness’ indeed abundantly surface when both humans and fairies are dosed with a love potion as this tale unfolds.

Director Jeff Page has done a fabulous job of staging the production, which is a clever, enchanting tangle of magically mismatched love that ultimately works out seamlessly in the end. Young lovers collide in the woods with feuding fairies and an inept group of craftsmen attempting to stage a play for the wedding of the Duke of Athens.

Believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596, the story portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.

The cast does a first-rate job as well, each capturing the full scale of meaning and emotions behind the sometimes difficult-to-understand Shakespearean language.

Nathan Johnson (Theseus) and Kirsten Harper (Hippolyta) are outstanding in their key roles, and the quartet of lovers (Steven Pecksen as Demetrius; Brayden Scobie as Lysander; Nicole Leal as Hermia and Tiffany Carlson as Helena) are each terrific in their respective roles as well.

The situations amongst the four of them – influenced of course by mischievous and wonderfully-portrayed Puck (Kohl Littlechilds and Tessa Simpson) provide the best moments of play. Girl loves boy who couldn’t care less. Magic potion sweeps his indifference aside. Suddenly, the girl finds herself the object of affection of both men and assumes they are simply making fun of her.

Of course, there’s that set of ‘actors’ in the play who do their level but misguided best to stage a show of their own for the wedding. The play essentially wraps up on the hysterical antics they provide – a superb reminder of just how comical Shakespeare could be as he wove together his masterpieces. As the troupe, Brooke Dalton, Raegan Aleman, Glenndl Miguel, Daryn Tessier and Halee Pierog are over-the-top fantastic, and of course Dylan Hopkins as Bottom is a constant scene-stealer via his sheer exuberance and energy.

Design-wise, the production draws inspiration from the sensibilities of the 1920s and it works extremely well. An effective and atmospheric yet simple set, designed by Daniela Masellis, provides plenty of room for the actors and fairies to nail the ‘movement’ demands of the show as well. And the costumes, in the most capable hands of wardrobe coordinator Donna Jopp, are terrific all the way through, too.

Lighting designer Greg Stafford provides just the right touches and shades of light to add mood and feeling to what’s happening as well.

Much of the credit for the show’s success must ultimately go to Page. He’s obviously tapped into something here, providing a rich and infectious fascination with Shakespeare to the cast of second-year theatre students. There is plenty of joy in this production, and it’s clear that his knack for fresh originality and bringing out the energies of such a talented group were evident from the play’s start to finish.

Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre by phone at 403-755-6626 or online at bkticketcentre.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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