Monday, October 24, 2016


A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Including a tedious scene of Pyramus and his Love, Thisbe) holding forth in the tiny space where the magic of the Independent Shakespeare Company radiates its work from is.. well, tiny.  The beauty of this company is that they don't let these bare minimum circumstances hold them back.  Producing A Midsummer Night's Dream with quarter a ton of fairies is no small task, however with doubling and enveloped in the spirit of Shakespeare's magical comedy, they make it happen. 

Having first experienced this play on stage at The Ahamnson with the Royal Shakespeare Company under the direction of Peter Brook the bar is set pretty high.  The stage is configured in 'tennis court' style with the audience on opposite sides of the action. Oberon (Sam Breen) and Titania (Kalean Ung) conduct their magical business from enormous golden thrones while mere mortals (and some of the fairies) create the mixed metaphors of the ancient time as well as a modern mix of men and women who compose The Rustics center stage.   Though the lovers are wonderful, it seems that Bottom (the very actory actor Faquir Hassan) and his cast for Pyramus and Thisbe: April Fritz (Flute),  Tatania Louder (Snout), Evan Lewis Smith (Snug), Erwin Tuazon (Quince) are modern day actors in their individual ways called to create their characters.  Silencing iPhones falls into the mix as well as a surprise for Oberon! 

The lovers, Helena, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius (doubled by the Rustics  get a program!) are lithe and to figure out who is in love with whom and why...  must take us to the text again and I always get confused.  Suffice it to say that they bring sensuality to the mix no matter who is sleeping with whom.
April Fritz, Evan Lewis Smith, Erwin Tuazon and Tatiana Louder Photo Credit
Grettel Cortes Photography

A major shock to the  system for those expecting a light weight Puck (Jose Acain who also limns Theseus) are in for a big surprise.  Puck literally attacks the stage and brings to the role the stuff of magic and even a bit of frightening power.  Of course, he's subject to the whims of Oberon (Breen) and Titania (Ung) both extraordinarily powerful as they struggle for power over one another. These physical aspects pumped on sterioids by director David Melville is a major work out for the entire cast.  The quarter ton of fairies I expected turn out to be a bevy of puppets manipulated by even the sleeping lovers.  It's fun. 
Doubling Hippolyta and Peaseblossom lithe Martha T. Newman,  fills the bill to the point of checking the playbill to make sure we are on top of who's who. Ditto for Egeus (Hassan) and the entire gang.  Sixteen plus characters by nine dedicated actors makes for another take on   Shakespeare's gorgeous play. I missed the moon when the Rustics got to their performance, but the play within a play will always be a favorite of mine.  

True to the text; for those who love the play, to see this dedicated cast bring it to life is pure pleasure.  

by William Shakespeare
Independent Shakespeare Company
3191 Casitas Avenue #168
Atwater Village/Los Angeles, CA 
Through Sunday November 20, 2016
Tickets and Information:
(818 508 1754) 
Limited Free Tickets Available!!
(818) 710 6306
No one is turned away for lack of funds.

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