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The Festival of Colors, Festival of Love

At the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, the Indian city of Jodhpur plus the Hindu religious event of Holi act as motivation for manager Carmen Khan’s creation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The event is a particularly likely setting for Midsummer: relating to Khan, Holi (referred to as both Festival of Colors and the Festival of prefer) “is a time ahead collectively, to laugh, love, fix damaged connections and enjoy life toward fullest.”

Bethanie Wampol’s simple but effective ready design recalls Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort district. A single wall surface with a triptych of pointed trefoil arches may be the only solid structure, and both it and the stage floor tend to be coated the town’s unique blue. Two aerial silks hang through the ceiling in purple (the color of “love’s wound, ” as Oberon reminds united states).

During Holi, participants douse each other with brightly-colored shows and powders, while the outfit design by Vickie Esposito sees about this motif where in fact the ready leaves down with a complete bedazzled rainbow of vibrant colors. In kind, the costumes approximately approximate traditional Indian clothes, sometimes integrating more western appears like the fans’ sneakers and slacks, Tom Snout’s overalls, and Puck’s trendy neon running outfit.

Esposito in addition uses color to underscore the play’s societal motifs. Inside their very first appearances, the clothes of the many Athenians follows a unified palette in colors of burnt sienna and maroon (the most somber colors when you look at the whole production). When the fans resolve to enter the forests, however, their more functionally practical outfit explodes over the shade wheel: Lysander and Demetrius in lemon yellow and turquoise tops with contrasting Chuck Taylors in purple and purple; Hermia in an orange scarf and green spangled dress over matching jeans; Helena in a coral tunic with purple slacks and rainbow sneakers. (the consequence is increased by Puck, just who adds sneakers and hoodies to an ever-changing parade of mix-and-match separates.) In the final scene, as soon as the enthusiasts resolve their individual resides and rejoin culture, they once more follow their particular leader’s sartorial cue: they, Theseus, and Hippolyta all come in nuptial white and gold.

The cast possesses the energy of impassioned festival-goers, channeling their particular passion into some highly entertaining performances. Melissa Dunphy as Puck symbolizes pure naughty glee with an engaging vigor (and her own motif songs). At the same time, the actors’ interesting characterization alternatives for the Athenians result in some larger-than-life activities without sliding into caricature. Jessica Gianone gives the lovelorn Helena a hilariously manic intensity inside her quest to manhandle Demetrius into going back the woman love, making her showdown with Hermia (Jenna Kuerzi) in III.2 that much funnier: it is really not insufficient actual ability or maidenly shyness that prevents this lady from fighting, but a (completely reasonable) terror of Hermia’s berserk mode. Nevertheless when both are not fighting over betrayal and brief jokes, Gianone and Kuerzi have actually a warm and natural chemistry that nicely sets their particular friendship independent of the torrid state of the enchanting connections.

Among the rude mechanicals, John Zak plays Bottom with an over-the-top affectation that includes apparently gained the value and awe of his colleagues, and then he joyfully offers the management for which they look to him into the uncharted oceans of neighborhood movie theater. The complete ensemble nails the deeply funny depiction of enthusiastic yet hopelessly amateur auteurs. Aaron Kirkpatrick is particularly excellent as Tom Snout, beautifully getting the uncomfortable stiffness of a first performance and in some way pulling down several hilarious pratfalls while standing within one place pretending to be the Wall.

Aside from the real comedy, Khan complements the cast’s high-energy with exciting music many showy unique results, frequently at the same time. The production starts in darkness with a crazy violin solo from Dunphy as black-clad business users re-enact a fairy revel with glowing fingertip lights, a cross between interpretive party and Tinkerbell attending a rave. Dunphy accents Puck’s pandemonium with discordant screeches from the woman handheld vibraphone, therefore the fingertip lights also represent the fairies’ secret, resulting in some impressively well-timed exchanges between Puck, Titania (Eleni Delopoulos), and Oberon (Brian Anthony Wilson) in which sleight-of-hand creates the impression of magical light hurled to and fro. The results aided by the aerial silks tend to be significantly less successful, as the cast seems rather tentative in exploiting their particular full acrobatic potential; however, they are not completely overlooked, as whenever Delopoulos’ Titania sings her own lullaby as she knots all of them into an airborne cradle. Khan comes to an end the production with a strong sung version of Puck’s final soliloquy performed by Dunphy and a Bollywood-inspired dance sequence, a perfect mixing of Shakespearean tradition together with production’s contemporary influences.

The one area in which this marriage of countries falls quick may be the cast: one wishes the production more closely reflected Philadelphia’s multicultural makeup by in addition featuring onstage representation of their South Asian populace. But for the most part the environment adds an enjoyable and thought-provoking angle to the production. Titania and Oberon’s battle over her Indian page boy is transmuted from an exotic aside to a nearby concern attracting attention to their particular similarly amoral remedy for the Athenians. The usage of aerial silks, meanwhile, recalls Tim Supple’s popular multilingual British, Indian, and Sri Lankan co-production of Midsummer.

Spring festivals like Holi mark both normal and personal transformation. By linking this towards the themes of A Midsummer evening’s Dream, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre presents both a celebration of Shakespeare and love — throughout their many colors.

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