After residencies in Evansville and South Bend the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre’s Discovery Series production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" is on the main stage of their home theatre.
The production directed by Butler University Theatre Department head John Green is a fast paced ninety minutes of imaginatively visioned and artfully rendered theatre. Eight actors play all the roles: the characters from the court, the mechanicals from the town and the fairies from the forest.
The IRT production is streamlined for a young audience, but the story lines and the language are always clear. I did wonder if even teenagers would want quite as much physical pulling and pawing from the young lovers. There was another element that puzzled me. The cast made no direct connection with the audience for most of the show and then started to nod and wink a bit. I don’t know if a dramatic event in the play set this off or if the players were nervous that they weren’t being successful.
Much of the IRT’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" is choreographed in an extremely physical production for the actor dancers. Melli Hoppe’s choreography ranges from graceful dance moves to some very physical struggles. When the two young couples played by Sara Locker, Jonathan Molitor, Jennifer Bohler and Michael Huftile get mixed up by Puck’s mistaken application of a love potion, the fur can really fly.
The comedy of the mechanicals preparation for their play is particularly well worked out. The players all appear in derbies, funny glasses and long driving coats. They appear to a recording of the warnings about going into the woods from the song "Teddy Bears’ Picnic." Frederick Marshall was comical as their leader Bottom.
Throughout "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," Andrew Navarro as Theseus, the Duke of the Court, and Oberon the King of the Fairies with Constance Macy as his betrothed Hippolyta and his Fairy Queen Titania showed just how regal and how petty flesh and blood and royalty can be.
Mitchell Fain was the most engaging of Pucks and a real hoot as a New York style theatre director working with the mechanicals.
Joel Ebarb’s costuming for "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" ranges from the simple coats of the mechanicals to the elaborately decorated head dresses of the King and Queen with always the extremely physical character of the production in mind. If you do get to the theatre, wherever your seats are, do take a trip to the balcony to see Robert Koharchik’s stage painted from an inspiration of Fragonard.
"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" on the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre’s main stage plays through April 16th.