Riverside High School
Fairy hijinks, ludicrous love squares, talking asses, and tarot cards all combine to make Stone Bridge High School's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream a truly uproarious enterprise.
One of William Shakespeare's more prominent works, the comedy has seen countless literary, film, and theatrical adaptations. The plot is centered around the wedding of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen, and consists of three intertwining story lines: four lovers, a rag-tag acting troupe, and a host of supernatural creatures, all of whom find their paths colliding in the woods on a summer's night.
The cast did a wholly laudable job of not only allowing the meaning of Shakespeare's meandering verse to shine through, but also of managing to milk the comedic elements of the play for all they were worth. Although there were points when the longer, more tedious monologues became somewhat monotonous, the actors more than made up for these moments by meeting the undoubtedly daunting challenge of taking on a Shakespearean show with poise and effervescence.
As the quintessential star-crossed lovers Lysander and Hermia, Sam Fremin and Gillian Kniley were perfectly tragic. Their relationship was both credible and endearing, making their trials and tribulations even more poignant. Fremin was a standout from the beginning, displaying a comprehensive understanding of his character as well as a clear instinct for comedic timing. Kniley was admirably adept at portraying the emotional turmoil and unwavering strength of spirit that encapsulated Hermia.
Maxx Peak's larger-than-life persona and aptitude for physical comedy allowed him to steal the show as the witless, melodramatic Nick Bottom. Along with the rest of his troupe of Mechanicals, of whom Sonia Chandra rose to prominence with her rousing portrayal of The Wall, Peak managed to keep the audience in stitches for the duration of his time on stage. Rounding out the eclectic cast of characters, Miles Green commanded attention as the overbearing fairy king Oberon. His booming voice and undeniable air of authority allowed for a sense of grounding amid the surrounding chaos.
The behind-the-scenes aspects of the show added elements of whimsy which proved vital to the success of the production. The incorporation of the tarot cards as the main set pieces was a truly inspired concept, serving to embody the archetypes of the characters while providing a mystical, visually engaging backdrop. The driving force behind the show was student director Paisley LoBue, whose talent was evident through the creative liberties that were taken with the show. Her decision to establish the entirety of the show as the dream of a young boy gave it a surreal, ethereal quality, and her further directorial choices served to add dimension and realism to the characters.
Stone Bridge High School's reboot of the Shakespearean classic was in equal parts captivating and hilarious, and it was evident that the talented cast and crew threw every ounce of creative energy and passion they possessed into bringing the tale to life on stage.
McLean High School
The air tingles with magic as a fairy and a sprite meddle in various affairs of the forest-dwellers below. Under this pair's impish jurisdiction, fairies and mortals alike become enchanted by the spell of love. Can the course of true love run smooth in the throes of ensuing mischief? Stone Bridge High School bewitched its audience with a hilarious and whimsical rendition of Shakespeare classic A Midsummer Night's Dream.
This Shakespeare comedy was first performed in 1605. However, due to the tumult of British politics during the 17th and 18th centuries, it was not performed again until the 1840's. Since this Victorian Era revival, there have been numerous notable renditions, including a 1970 version by the Royal Shakespeare Company and a 1935 movie adaptation. This enchanting story begins with a complex love square: Lysander and Hermia love each other, Hermia's betrothed Demetrius loves her, and Helena (Hermia's childhood friend) loves Demetrius. When the four end up in a fairy-ridden forest, a puck named Robin Goodfellow mistakenly hexes Lysander into loving Helena. Further chaos ensues as a pompous actor is magically turned into a donkey, whom the fairy queen is subsequently bewitched to fall in love with. Fairies, sprites, love, and hilarity are abundant in this memorable classic.
The acting company worked quite effectively together. Even during moments of utmost hilarity none of the actors broke character. The Rude Mechanicals especially should be commended for their sidesplitting performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, which had the audience laughing hysterically.
Leading this magical cast was Sam Fremin's Lysander and Gillian Kniley's Hermia. Together, the two utilized convincingly genuine physicality to persuade the audience of their true love. Without her man by her side, Kniley continued to display a laudable emotional range. The other mortal couple, Helena (Susanna Major) and Demetrius (James Good), were also dedicated in their performances of love and scorn.
Mischief and mayhem galore accompanied the presence of Puck, portrayed by Taylor Stevens. As he and Oberon (Miles Green) watched their spells manifest from above, they remained consistently engaged in the action below. In his own right, Green's resonant voice and distinct characterization brought the king of fairies to life. A highlight of the night was Maxx Peak's Nick Bottom. He was, in short, magnetic--with a comedic flair that elicited peals of raucous laughter. Another notable comedic presence was Sonia Chandra as "The Wall." Although her appearance as "The Wall" spanned only a few minutes, it was certainly a standout.
Perhaps the most remarkable piece of this show was its student direction. Paisley LoBue had a difficult task set before her, with a large cast and extensive tech, and she more than exceeded expectations. LoBue added her own flair with the theme of tarot cards, which subtly yet impressively added to the production. The set design adhered to the motif of tarot cards, with two levels of panels that would revolve to either display a tree or a card. The special effects and sound also added levels of magic to the realm of the fairies.
Donkeys, fairies, tarot cards, and mortals intertwine in this enchantingly and belly-achingly uproarious tale of love. The students of Stone Bridge didn't need to cast a spell to make us fall in love with their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.