Troupe takes Shakespeare's play outdoors Comedy: The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre performs "A Midsummer Night's Dream," its first shot at the Bard, through July.

July 09, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If New Yorkers get their Shakespeare in the Park, why shouldn't Annapolitans partake of the Bard in the garden?

In the Summer Garden, that is, for thanks to the venerable Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is being presented through July at the outdoor theater across from the City Dock.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" marks the first nonmusical hTC production offered by ASGT in a decade and the first Shakespearean play produced in the organization's 33 years.

Crusty old Samuel Pepys may have dismissed the piece as "the most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life," but "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has achieved immortality as the most colorfully comic work in the Shakespearean canon.

And what better way to spend our midsummer nights than in the company of the hyper-hormonal mortals, squabbling fairies and hilariously inept Thespians who populate the play.

In "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the action moves between the royal court of Theseus, Duke of Athens (Clarke Madden), and the enchanted forest of Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies, played by Kevin Wallace and Kathleen Ruttum.

Julie Fox is Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons and love interest of Theseus. Josiah Rowe is Lysander, who loves Hermia (Cynthia Lasner) and runs off with her to the enchanted woods where fairies dwell.

Alas, Hermia's father, Egeus (Bob Rude) insists that Hermia marry Demetrius (Lance Lusk). Demetrius follows the runaways into the woods, pursued by Helena (Lauren Kirby), who adores him.

The craziness begins when the fairy, Puck (Michael Smith), dusts both sleeping pairs with a love potion that will send them head-over-heels in love with the first person they see upon awakening.

Hilarious comedy punctuates the play courtesy of the "Rude Mechanicals," the group of actors who perform a play-within-a-play version of "Pyramus and Thisbe" to the side-splitting amusement of both the on-stage royals and the audience. Pete Kaiser, Jerry Vess, Chris Parker, Jason Vellon, Patrick Roanhouse, and Mike Heany provide the laughs.

The lyrical lilt of "Midsummer Night's Dream" has inspired wonderful music, most notably Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music to Shakespeare's play and Benjamin Britten's operatic treatment of the story. Summer Garden will use music composed especially for this production by pianist-musician Angela Linhardt.

"When I was asked to compose music for this production," Linhardt says in the program notes, "I found the songs and small instrumental pieces and themes unfolded as a result of this magical collaboration with Shakespeare, his thoughts and myriad cantabiles."

Thus can music and stagecraft enhance Shakespeare's magical message; that reality is formed not only out of the rationality of our designs, but from the serendipity of enchantment as well. To ignore this essential wisdom is to give credence to Puck's famous dismissal of us from Act III, scene II: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" plays Thursdays through Sundays through Aug. 1. All shows begin at 8: 30 p.m. For reservations, call 410-268-9212.

Pub Date: 7/09/98

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