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Cappies Review: T.C. Williams' 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Exploring heavily themes of love, individuality, and even feminism, Shakespeare’s tale has stood the test of time.

Julia Wagner, Brenna Lancour, Leia Moran (Titania), Sam Hanoura (Bottom), Brianna Williams, Alo Lenk, Annika Papke; photo by Pat Bayly Smith
Julia Wagner, Brenna Lancour, Leia Moran (Titania), Sam Hanoura (Bottom), Brianna Williams, Alo Lenk, Annika Papke; photo by Pat Bayly Smith
By Joey Ledonio, Bishop Ireton High School

What do you get when four lovers, a struggling acting troupe and mischievous faeries collide on a summer night in the woods? Confusion, affection and mayhem ensue in William Shakespeare’s classic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” produced last weekend at T.C. Williams High School.

Written between 1590 and 1596, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” follows the forbidden romance of Lysander (Ian McClary) and Hermia (Stephanie Slaven-Ruffing), two young lovers who are kept apart by the latter’s father. Demetrius (Peter Eckel), who pines for Hermia’s affection, is in turn pursued by Helena (Rebecca Frank).

When a magical flower brought on by a mischievous Puck (Eliza Malakoff) meant to set things aright forces the lovers to fall in love with the wrong people, Shakespeare’s comedy takes off. Exploring heavily themes of love, individuality, and even feminism, Shakespeare’s tale has stood the test of time and is a popular choice for high school and community theaters to this day.

Taking on this production is no small feat and the hard work of student director Isabel Hollins was evident on stage. Overall, the cast of actors at TC Williams handled the difficult language well with mostly clear projection and diction. However, some actors failed to understand the meaning of their lines and struggled to find a common energy to drive the story.

With a focused objective and tactful delivery, Leia Moran as Titania, queen of the faeries, presented a powerful and regal character, engaging the audience through her deft grasp of the Shakespearean text and propelling her to the top of this production. Joining Moran as a standout in this large cast was Eliza Malakoff through her portrayal of Puck, the spirited servant to the faerie king. Malakoff’s stage presence allowed her to draw the eye easily while bringing a new energy to each scene she entered.

Rounding out the cast and further bolstering the show were the Rude Mechanicals, a troupe of actors preparing a play to be performed at the Duke’s wedding. Each member of the ensemble created separate, distinct characters that drew laughter from the audience at every turn. Sam Hanoura lead the group as Bottom, a self-absorbed and overdramatic player, with broad comedy and physicality, securing his place as an audience favorite.

The group especially shone towards the end of the night as they performed their painfully-rehearsed play, “Pyramus and Thisbe,” delivering a delightfully awkward performance for the Duke and delighting the audience, drawing gales of laughter and eager applause.

Completing this production of “Midsummer” was the effective tech, which was executed well and complemented the show. Handsomely painted flats that pulled away to reveal a forest comprised of a platform made accessible by ramps on all sides was mystically achieved through the use of twinkling strings of lights and eerie lighting. Costumes and makeup added to the production’s overall aesthetic and comedy, with such pieces as magical faerie markings and a donkey head.

In conclusion, the students at TC Williams enjoyably presented one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies.

This review was brought to you by The Cappies, the critics and awards program for high school theatre.

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