Review: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" of Roadies and Rock Stars
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Laurie Harrop-Purser
Presented by Renaissance Now Theatre & Film at the Chain Theatre
312 West 36th Street, 4th floor, Manhattan, NYC
July 26-29, 2023
|L to R: Eden Bostrom, Ryan Hopkins (as Puck), Josh Munoz, Preston Ochsenhirt, and Charli Purser. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
|Austin Zimmerman, Caleb Voss, Preston Ochsenhirt in the Mechanicals "Band." Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
The show starts out with the mechanicals–or, we should say, The Mechanicals–covering a few songs with a mix of some live instruments and vocals and recorded backing tracks. The Mechanicals are opening for Theseus (Desmond Walker), The Duke of Rock, who at one point stops a fight with the power of a high note and who is pitted in a sing-off against Hippolyta (Yulissa Torres), The Amazon of Song, by their managers, Oberon (Rick Macy) and Titania (Amanda WIlliams). The inclusion of well-known 20th-century songs is both entertaining and apt, as early modern theater would itself incorporate popular songs into its plays and performances. Once the quartet of young lovers–Lysander (Joshua Johnson) and Hermia (Sydney Olsen) love one another, but Demetrius (Seven Harrison), favored by Theseus, has decided that he will be the one to marry Hermia, abandoning Helena (Sonja Hugo)–set off into the forest around Laurel Canyon, the familiar Midsummer unfolds, although it continues to feature added and altered lines throughout. Magic misdirects affections, wooing becomes literal pursuit, and the Mechanicals try to pull off a career-making amateur theatrical.
|Joshua Johnson as Lysander, Sydney Olson as Hermia, Sonja Hugo as Helena, Seven Harrison as Demetrius. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
|Rick Macy as Oberon, Amanda Williams as Titania. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards