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Good Dream shows Shakespeares silly side

HART Theater presents classic Midsummer play


by: COURTESY PHOTO: PAUL RODER - Larry Jenson, 16, plays the mischievous sprite, Puck, in HART Theatres take on the Shakespeare classic, A Midsummer Nights Dream.It’s a hot, summer night when anything can happen and fairies are casting spells on lovesick mortals in a magical Athenian forest.

For an evening of enchantment, enter Hillsboro Artists Regional Theater’s production of William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."

The story interlocks three separate plots, starting with four lovesick mortals.

Escaping her father’s arranged marriage to a man named Demetrius, Hermia and her true lover, Lysander, flee to the woods. Demetrius follows them, pursued by his lovesick admirer, Helena. A love quadrangle develops among them when a mischievous sprite, Puck, plays Cupid.

Meanwhile, a group of amateur actors — the “rude mechanicals” — rehearse a badly-written production of "Pyramus and Thisby” for the wedding of the Duke of Athens and his to-be Amazon queen.

And finally, all their lives are transformed by the warring but romantically entangled fairy king and queen — Oberon and Titania.

“It’s a play about the folly of young love, the fickle nature of human emotion,” Roder said.

While staying true to Shakespeare’s script, written sometime between 1590 and 1596, Roder said HART’s version does have “a few tweaks and twists,” including a harp-strumming fairy and one entirely new character: Puck’s older brother.

Roder cast 16-year-old Larry Jenson to play the role of Puck, the court jester of the fairy kingdom. But he didn’t want to deny 30-year-old theater newbie Justin Campbell, a role. So he let Campbell play the sprite’s older brother and Puck’s darker, alter ego.

A bright canopy of light cast over the audience pulls viewers into the stage where curly willow branches and weeping ivy create a cool, dreamy woodland atmosphere. Fairies break the theater’s invisible “fourth wall,” by drifting on and off the stage and invoking audience interaction. “It’s quite a visual feast,” said Roder.

The music is distinctive too — charming, classical pieces for the mortal world; mystical, tribal sounds for the fairy world.

The “rude mechanicals” — the 16th century blue-collar crowd presenting a play within a play — are wonderful comic relief, said Roder, a self-described Looney Tunes expert. ”They are “flat-out, make-you-cry funny.”

Actors fall down and fall in love with the wrong people: Titania seduces a "rude mechanical" who has been turned into a donkey. As Puck knows, love can make fools of us all.

“The play is 10 minutes longer than you think because of all the laughs,” said Roder.

The show runs through April 14 at the HART Theater, 185 S.E. Washington St., in Hillsboro.




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