Whatever your take on Shakespeare - and you may have the most brilliant concept for staging - nothing works better than a talented director and cast plunging the depths of the Bard's words and dramatic actions. And with Woman Seeking... not only did the audience get a splendid staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream, they got a superb cast, a stunning set, as well as gorgeous costumes and lights. An updated and abridged version, this Midsummer was more traditional than its concept appears - although performed by an all-female cast, the actresses played their roles for complete authenticity rather than camp.
Kathleen Bishop's direction was sharp, simple and allowed the cast to move about the stage with authority and grace. Kimo James's scenic and lighting design was first-rate. Built on three layers and shrouded in nets with plastic flowers and shrubbery, the forest was the most lush and magical seen in recent Off-Off-Broadway productions. His lights cast a glow over the fairy kingdom, lovingly illuminating all who stepped onto the stage. Annie McGovern and Kat Pierce's costumes were quite stunning; the fairies have never looked better on this kind of budget. Titania's gown and Oberon's cape were especially striking.
Working with the First Folio, the original text put together by two of Shakespeare's company members, the ensemble hit the right keys of both punctuation and verbal conceits. Dorothy Abrahams's Titania, Chelsea Silverman's Oberon and Christine Mosere's Puck were nearly awe-inspiring. The lovers Ana Jacome, Sonja Stuart, Barbara Helms, and LeeAnne Hutchison were wonderfully love-struck, while Nancy Delaney's Bottom was hilarious and touching. The Mechanicals, played by Elizabeth Bunnell, Martha Casey, Margot Avery, Kathleen Bishop, and Leigh Williams, were expertly daffy, as were Elizabeth McGuire's Theseus, Tara Taylor's Hippolyta and Emily Mitchell's Egeus. The fairies, played by McGuire, Taylor, Bunnell, Casey, Avery and Yael Marga Schuster set the right tone.
One note of grievance: Puck's final speech (the only obvious addition in the play) seemed too explanatory. In the statement, cleverly done in rhyme, Puck speaks of the reason for an all-female version and the role of women in theater. Someone should have told the cast and crew that with that much talent and commitment, they didn't need any explanations.
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Copyright 2001 Andrés J. Wrath