Midsummer's Night Dream: A Totally Tubular Take on a Classic

Midsummer's Night Dream is playing at Studio 101 through April 9.

I tried to explain to Christine Weems, the director of Boiling Point's Midsummer's Night Dream, how difficult it was going to be to write this review. I've seen just about every play Shakespeare has ever written, this one being no exception. Except...I've never seen one like this. If I had told my editor I wanted to put on a Shakespearean play with fairies and play within plays, only use an all female cast, give it an 80's theme and end the play with a dance party ending, I'm pretty sure the next morning I would be told fill a cup and hope I pass. But Christine does it with a beat boxing Oberon, a Titania taken straight out of My Cousin Vinny, and possibly one square mile of spandex.

The play is word for word the original work with just a few diversions when the cast members sing along with the music or make a sporadic 80's reference. But the visuals set it apart from anything else. You have women playing men playing women. The costume department apparently raided John Hughes' closet for clothing. Rachel Rubin's Puck was only a single set of shoulder pads away from finishing her transition to the Shogun of Harlem, Sho'Nuff. The production isn't just over the top. No, the production went over the top and then got a ladder. It sought refuge in audacity and achieved it perfectly.

Three performances need be lauded especially. Megan Nix as Bottom put on a performance that would have been banned in most Middle Eastern countries for dietary reasons. Thankfully the set was minimalist or else they would still be getting her teeth marks out of the furniture. Poor Katherine Rinaldi is the much put upon Helena, who suffers for her art not so much as being chased by two enchanted suitors as she does it at a full sprint in stiletto heels for almost the entire second act. Helen Rios is the diminutive Hermia, whose transformation from love struck to homicidal is rather entertaining.

The play within the play, Pyramus and Thisby, had Nix along with Bailey Hampton, Stephanie Kelso, Amy Pope, Elizabeth Grant, Stacy Carraro doing their best to do their worst. If it had not been on purpose you would have seen a shepherd's crook emerge to remove them from the stage. They were given a chance to misbehave and they took advantage of it. Costume malfunctions, breaking character, corpsing, and anything else an actor loses sleep over was in abundance in the final act.

Right until it descended into total anarchy and it became a dance number and then a dance party with all the ladies from the audience jumping onto the stage. One gripe, if you are going to dress someone up like Michael Jackson during his Thriller heyday, you better have them moonwalk.

Is this play for everyone? Most definitely not. Shakespearean purists will develop hives watching this. The Bard himself is probably spinning like a lathe right now. But if you like silly fun, I mean kick your brain in neutral and don't worry about silly things like continuity, then you'll have a blast. Seeing it is much easier than describing it.

Midsummer's Night Dream is playing at Studio 101 through April 9.

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