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Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, Virginia, presented “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the Cappies Critics on December 2, 2023. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Kira Gilligan

Robinson Secondary School


In the midst of a dream, fairies and spells are sometimes what it takes to guide someone towards their true love. In "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School navigated a journey of love, transformation, and jealousy with a touch of sparkle and plenty of mischief.


First performed in 1604, Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" follows three pairs of lovers, a mischievous fairy, and a goofy merchant through a dream that changes them forever. While it was written over 400 years ago, this cast and crew made the play accessible to the modern viewer. Underneath the Shakespearean writing, the timeless theme of love shone through.


From the moment Titania (Audrey Iglesia) entered, she didn’t need her glimmering crown to show she was a Queen. Iglesia dominated the stage with her regality, thoughtfully expressing every part of her character. Her exasperation radiated from every frustrated sigh, sarcasm through every daunting smile and glimmer in her eye. After falling in love with Nick Bottom (Charles Cautero), she transformed into a teenage girl hilariously in love with her sing-songy voice, childish giggles, and “bops" on the nose. However, her finger snaps and eye twitches showed that her character underneath the big smiles was still the same.


Andrew Parker was a master of physical comedy as Puck, a mischievous fairy who stirs up trouble. In feats of physical endurance, he crouched for long stretches and then leaped straight up in the air. He revealed Puck’s cunning, playful character with coy smiles and details like trying to eat flowers he was given. Even in the background, Parker still fully embodied Puck with his facial expressions and dancer movements.


Lysander (Alexander Ramer) and Demetrius (Jackson Berg) played the perfect rivals and ultimate duo through their trials and tribulations with love. After falling in love with the same girl twice, their conflict came to a head with a hilarious and skilled wrestling match across the stage. The two were on opposite tracks, with Lysander turning from a soft romantic to aggressively in love and Demetrius turning from aggressive to soft. Once the two reconciled, they acted as if they had been friends the entire time, laughing and drinking together.


The set, as if it were from Shakespeare's own Globe Theater, was perfectly translated to the school stage by Peter Escamilla, Aileen Randall, Victoria Salley, and Rose Zakrzwski. It featured two large columns that spun around to reflect changes in the setting, which added to the whimsy and magic of the show. The set’s minimalism allowed for lots of versatility and added opportunity for the actors, allowing them to play and dance around the columns and lie at their bases.


The sound, designed and managed by Theresa Varga, was creative and smooth. Varga handpicked each sound cue, even recording some sounds from the nature around the school. Additionally, the sounds matched moments in the play precisely, like the thunder cracks being timed perfectly after lines. The smooth flow of the show was thanks to both sound and stage management (Daniel Cautero, Ella Frey, James Parker, Victoria Salley), who cued the show. In addition to cueing, stage managers were masters of communication, running a Google Classroom to give the cast and crew materials to enhance their performances. Thanks to Varga and the Stage Managers, the show ran without a hitch.


In a story with magical fairies, kings and queens, and a whole lot of old English, Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" told this story in a way that would make anyone believe in true love.

Jordan Richard

Quince Orchard High School


With fierce love and competition, one can only "...hope not to offend with the intention to offend..." That is the very essence of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s hilarious rendition of Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."


First authored by Shakespeare, the play has been a staple of modern literature examples of satire. Created in the 16th century, it went on to surface new adaptations constantly to the present day. Winning numerous awards for its screenplay adaptations like Best Cinematography and Best Picture in 1935 and Best Film in 1999, it follows the story of 2 brash young men (Demetrius and Lysander) in addition to 2 young women (Hermia and Helena) longing for love. Beginning with Hermia and Lysander fleeing Athens law so they may be wed, Demetrius chases after Hermia seeking her hand, Helena chasing after Demetrius in tow. All the while a mystical congregation of fairies have their fun “Making an ass” out of all of them.


Driving the story Hermia (Aileen Randall) had a ray of coolness that spread like wildfire across the stage, calming her fellow actors, including the charming Lysander (Alexander Ramer). Randall and Ramer were able to take a normally serious relationship and love and nurture it until it bloomed into a shockingly real sense of companionship. With innuendos from Ramer and a doting quip and smile from Randall, it truly seemed that they would live a happy life hand in hand. Ramer specifically demonstrated a masterful knowledge of stage combat in his nigh eternal fight with Demetrius over Helena’s heart, where with an endearing cockiness proceeded to throw a punch, and backhand his competitor, all for the sake of love.


Aiding in the story was a plethora of talented supporting cast. Of note were Puck (Andrew Parker), and Oberon (Nicholas Ramer) both demonstrating a well-informed grasp of the audience's view, consistently cheating out and fading into the background when they weren’t the center of attention. Parker embodied the quick, darting movements of a hummingbird amidst the forest that worked expertly in unison with Ramer’s cool, lurking presence. Much akin to watching a lion stalk its prey as he concocted his great schemes and proclamations, Ramer created a powerful figure while maintaining the true comedic focus of the play.


The ensemble at Saint John Paul’s was constantly a welcome surprise, for each fairy, troupe member, or court attendant breathed not only life, but an added hilarity that repeatedly sent the audience into a fit of chortling snorts. In addition, the elegant leaps and twirls in the fairies' expressive dancing highlighted their skill and put them above the competition.


Now while the actors dominated the stage, everything was enhanced by the phenomenal sound work (Theresa Varga) and whimsical make-up (Olivia Kemp and Juliana Taylor). Varga was the only person operating a manual soundboard, so her work was all the more impressive. With no issues or errors with mics across the incredulously long show and fantastically executed storm effects that brought to life the power of the fairies, Varga proved that in some cases, all it takes is one person to make a big difference. Kemp and Taylor only added onto such power by bedazzling each fairy with a plethora of glittery eye shadow and highlighting that authenticated the whimsy and larger-than-life feel that many of the fairies illustrated.


To close, Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s performance of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" brought roaring laughter out of its audiences and evoked a powerful sense of nostalgia where life was simpler and truly hilarious.


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