While it seems like we will never be living in “precedented” times again, you can take a deep breath knowing that in church basements in places like Rosedale, Maryland, there are still timeless, heartwarming traditions that endure. I am speaking about children’s theater and specifically, Artistic Synergy of Baltimore’s production of “The Rude Mechanicals” by Ed Graczyk. I did not realize this was going to be a children’s production so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church to see a children’s show performed by actual children!
…a delight…These kids show us that as long as adults support them and give them space, the next generation of Baltimore theater is going to come up strong.
Directed by Melissa Broy Fortson and assistant director Louisa Davis, “The Rude Mechanicals” is a reimagined telling of the “play within a play” from William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Petra Quince (Sabrina Cosden), a carpenter, decides to pull together with her fellow craftspeople and enter a play competition to perform for Duke Theseus’ (Abel Browne) wedding. Snug (Saraí Isabela Drost), Flute (Makayla Gard), Starveling (Addison Stump), Snout (Meghan Chrzanowski), and of course, Bottom (Andrew Heisler) all are there. Meanwhile, Theseus is miserable because his bride Hippolyta (Eva Beau Marx) really can’t be bothered with him. With a bit of help from Robin Goodfellow (Oyin Omojola), known to most of us as Puck, romance reigns and the marriage is saved. Weaving in and out of the action with Robin is Riley Phillips as “Props Person” who is part stage manager and part-clown, contributing more to the “meta” element of the production.
I’m a curmudgeon and a fierce Shakespeare advocate—and I believe everyone can rise up to the original text. That being said, the show is charming and these young thespians manage to hold up to the comedy— quite a bit of their delivery is genuinely funny! Their memorization is great though some are still working on proper enunciation (aren’t we all?) Everyone had a developed character that was interesting to watch throughout each scene. The show moves quickly and the actors maneuver the space with confidence. At one point, a prop went missing. While it became obvious and I was waiting for the director to come out and save the day, no such thing occurred. The young actors improvised and found their way to the next scene with a sense of humor, ease, and professionalism.
The set was simple but very effective. With a few well-placed benches and changing curtains, the audience was taken into a quasi-medieval fantasy land befitting of the tale. Did I mention the costumes were adorable? The young actors worked with music, light cues, and even microphones. It’s quite a bit more than you normally expect for children’s theatre and they showed that they are perfectly capable of working with tech and a slightly complicated set. Admittedly, there were some rough sound issues but sometimes opening night is a bit more like a final dress rehearsal.
Artistic Synergy of Baltimore understands the importance of bringing children into the live entertainment space in a world that is increasingly virtual. This is the type of play I wish I had the chance to be involved in when I was this age. It’s a delight for families with young kids or kids who are thinking about taking the stage themselves.
These kids show us that, as long as adults support them and give them space, the next generation of Baltimore theater is going to come up strong.
Running time: Two hours with a 15-minute intermission.
“The Rude Mechanicals” runs Fridays-Sundays through July 31, 2022 at Artistic Synergy of Baltimore, 8212 Philadelphia Road, Rosedale, MD 21237. For more information and tickets, click here.