What happens when you combine some mixed-up lovers, a feuding lord and his lady, a chauvinist father, a host of fairies and a little magic? You get Theatre UCSB in conjunction with the SB Dance Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a visual treat and mental delight that makes for a truly magical evening.
This William Shakespeare production is one of the best I have seen in a while, blending fantastic colors and textures along with new age-sounding music and wonderful actors and dancers to create a tapestry of talent. This is a comedy of true sorts and is hilarious, even to those who do not fully understand Shakespearean language.
The play follows many characters’ lives that all meet together at the end. First, the lovers: Helena (Caitlin Ferrara) is in love with Demetrius (Jaron Farnham), who in turn is in love with Hermia (Brianna Solomon), who in turn is in love, mutually, with Lysander (Justin Badger). However, Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t. So, Hermia and Lysander run away to the forest to escape, followed by Demetrius and Helena.
In the forest, they come under the magical mercy of Oberon (Edi Gathegi), the king of the fairies, and his queen, Titania (Jennifer Pae). But Titania is mad at Oberon for trying to take away the boy she is raising. In revenge, Oberon sends his servant Puck (Sara White) to fetch a flower that when anointed on a sleeping person’s eyes will make them fall in love with the next creature they see. Oberon then makes Titania fall in love with a mechanical who has been magically turned into an ass while practicing a play with other not-so-smart mechanicals for the duke’s wedding. But the flower’s magic is also used on the lover, creating one of the funniest scenes in the play. But as this is a comedy, all’s well that ends well, and it does end well.
Although it is Shakespeare, whose language can intimidate those unfamiliar with Elizabethan English, this production is easy to understand thanks to the work of the director and the actors. Even though the setting changes many times and there are 37 actors and dancers in the cast, chaos never ensues. This is due in part to the costume designer, Dianne J. Holly, and the scenic designers, Lee Keenan and Jay Michael Jagim. The costumes, which almost steal the show, are an amazing combination of color and glitter. The fairies’ costumes, especially with Titania’s and Oberon’s, immediately give the impression of magic and wonder. It is obvious these are not normal people, but fairies of nature and magic. The set is comprised of the walls of the court, which are removed to reveal the multileveled forest of Oberon and Titania. The director made full use of the levels, and even with all 37 people on stage, it didn’t seem overcrowded.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performs through March 8, 9 and 10 at 8:00 p.m. at Hatlen Theatre. $16 general; $12 students and seniors. Call 893-3535 for tickets and information.