It may be cold out, but Theatre Rusticle’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is here to heat you up
Theatre Rusticle has given new life to Shakespeare’s fantastical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their production, now on at Buddies in Bad Times, feels like an antidote for sorrows of the soul. It’s like a burst of summer love in the dead of winter.
It’s breathtakingly dreamy, intensely physical, and unrelentingly playful.
The play takes place in Athens, on the eve of a wedding between Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, a former queen of the Amazons. It follows the unravelling of four young lovers: Hermia, Demetrius, Lysander, and Helena.
Various events bring the four young lovers to a forest under supernatural rule by a king and queen at war: Oberon, King of the Fairies, and Titania, Queen of the Fairies. The forest is also home to an ensemble of amateur actors, rehearsing a play for the upcoming wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. In their duelling and meddling ways, Oberon and Titania cast hexes that run amok, and chaos ensues over all the players in the forest.
Director Allyson McMackon has made this oft staged production feel completely fresh with a staggering emphasis on strong, sensual physicality, the comedy of the text, and gender-bending casting. An intricate set doesn’t harness the production. Instead, it uses delicate lighting, and an entirely captivating ensemble cast.
Of particular note: Richard Alan Campbell was charming as the meddling, misfiring Puck, Sarah Machin Gale was a force of nature as the unstoppable Pyramus, and Michael Derworiz played a wall within a play, like none other I’ve ever seen. Annie Tuma embodied Hermia, fierce as I’ve ever seen, and Nick Eddie perfected Helena, forlorn, but enduring.
On the whole, this production of Midsummer was a sight to behold. The cast was so very good, their performances so physical, that I felt their plunges from love to jealousy to heartbreak, viscerally. It was wonderfully comedic too, provoking deep belly-laughs. And, true to form, it felt like a riveting dream; two and a half hours, all in a breath.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing until January 26, 2020 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street).
- Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm, with additional matinees on Sunday at 2:30pm.
- Ticket prices range from $25–$30 (plus HST). Rush tickets may be available for same-day performances, in person at the box office.
- Tickets are available online, or in person at the box office.
Photo of Kwaku Okyere and Alexandra Montagnese provided by the company