“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is, perhaps, one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved and well-known works. It tells the story of humanity’s desire to love and be loved, regardless of the foolishness or even the risk of giving one’s heart completely to another. I simply cannot tire of this timeless tale. There is nothing quite like relaxing on the sweet eve of midsummer, watching fairies up to mischief and mayhem, coaxing love, comedy, and war, only to find that love always wins in the end.
“I am in awe….”
When I discovered that Hard Bargain Players, located in Accokeek, MD, was to stage an adapted version of this beloved play, I could hardly contain my anticipation. On opening night, I crested the hill, nearly passing the driveway (pay close attention to the signs that say ‘show tonight!’), found myself a parking space, and stood in awe at my surroundings. I have never been to the little amphitheater Hard Bargain Players calls its home, and it is magnificent! Located off in the woods, it is completely outdoors, with trees to provide shade and muffle out the sounds of modern life. I felt as though I really had stepped into the world of fairies as I made my way down the path to the little theatre in the woods. They have the loveliest little snack shack, in case of dire hunger or the desire for a drink, and everyone was so kind and friendly. The seats were lawn chairs, and they surrounded the thrust stage on three sides, only three rows deep. Quite an intimate setting, especially for a love story!
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened on May 10th, amidst the threat of impending rain storms. After a few showers, the show began with an eloquent discussion between Hippolyta and Theseus, soon turning into an argument as we are presented with the current plight of young lovers. Demetrius is to wed Hermia, who loves Lysander instead, as Helena pines away for Demetrius.
Just when you think the plot cannot get any more insane, we are introduced to Nick Bottom and his less than enthusiastic band of players. This foursome is to put on a show, yet struggles arise. For instance, Snug, cannot read his line (this hilarity is a must see – I simply must congratulate Quentin Nash Sagers, who portrayed Snug, for his impeccable comedic timing and facial expressions). The dialogue only grows more hilarious as the characters move into the nearby woods, where Oberon and Titania have a little dispute brewing. Introduce Puck, the fairy who thrives on mischief, a magic flower that can make a person fall in love with the first thing they see, a few mishaps for our fair lovers and players, and you have the perfect comedic love story!
The costumes, designed by Lisa Magee, were modern and simple. At first, I thought that the show would not translate as well without its period attire, but I came to love the use of modern apparel! It added another layer to the dialogue, and really brought out each character’s true self. This design worked very well with the simple light plot (designed by Ted DeMarco-Logue), and really allowed the actors to move through the simple set (designed by Rachel Wallace). I loved that the crescent moon was the focal point of the stage and that the actors used the entire stage (running in and out of the audience and up through the walkways) as they engaged in presenting this production. This choice really made me feel as though I was a part of this show. Everyone on the design team clearly worked together to create this unforgettable theatrical experience.
Speaking of the actors, this bunch of performers deserves a standing ovation. Each one presented their respective parts with ease and expertise. The stage presence of each player was perfect, and the parts were very well cast. Kudos to the director, Rachel Wallace, for acquiring such a delightful and talented set of performers! The lovers were impeccable in interaction and timing, delivering both heartfelt and hilarious lines with sincerity. Bottom and his friends were bumbling, yet perfectly delightful in their delivery of the play within the play. Oberon, Titania, and the fairies were charming yet devious. I am in awe of this cast!
The best part of this entire show is the depth and expertise brought to dissecting and presenting the dialogue. Many a good actor has tried and missed the true poetry of Shakespeare, neglecting to realize the meaning and flow of his writing. This is not true of this cast, not one bit! Each cast member rolled off his/her lines with the ease of common conversation, stumbling not over Shakespeare’s strange verbiage or poetic choice of words. I was able to comprehend lines that I have heard before in an entirely new way thanks to the attention to detail of this cast and its director, Wallace.
Yes, truly she led this cast most valiantly in bringing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to life. While this isn’t the entire Shakespearean work, I did not even miss the moments that had been cut. Wallace’s adaptation presented the entire story in 90 minutes without losing a beat! This is an impressive feat, for Shakespeare does not lend itself well to removing scenes.
“…reason and love keep little company…,” Shakespeare reminds us. Yet, that is exactly the reason you should attend this show. It does a person good to laugh at the hilarity of love, coming to understand that true love abides through all conditions (even magic flowers and fairies like Puck). Young and old, this play speaks true. I promise you, this is a must-see performance! Don’t miss this production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Hard Bargain Players. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will leave you laughing for days!
Advisory: Some sexual references, flirting, and comedic physical violence. There will be moments of heavy laughing, followed by additional moments of giggling and chuckling, and the occasional moth and donkey. Be advised, this show takes place outside in the woods, so dress accordingly.
Running Time: Approximately 1.5 hrs with no intermission.
“Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be playing at Hard Bargain Players in Accokeek, MD from May 10-19th, 2018. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please see here.