Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is undeniably compelling



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By Bruce Urquhart, Woodstock Sentinel-Review and Stratford Beacon Herald

Sunday, June 1, 2014

There’s an exuberance to Chris Abraham’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that rings true to the staging’s central conceit.

Conceived as a wedding present to a newlywed couple from their friends – a group of actors who bring a self-reflexive edge to the Shakespeare comedy – A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins with a feel of spontaneity. The actors – as well as the audience – are guests at a backyard wedding reception for two friends, played by Josue Laboucane and Thomas Olajide. To celebrate the love of these two men, their friends decide to treat them to a seemingly off-the-cuff performance of Midsummer Night, “volunteering” for the roles with a quick nod and a smile.

Designed by Julie Fox, the Festival Stage setting does look like it’s hosting an informal reception, complete with decorations, strung lights, a landscaped pond and a wedding DJ, performed by onstage musician Thomas Ryder Payne. The guests mingle on the lawn, enjoying cocktails and conversation until the host, a charismatic Scott Wentworth, assumes the role of Theseus. Soon, the principal conflict is revealed – the bizarre love quadrilateral between the lovely Hermia (Bethany Jillard), her beloved Lysander (Tara Rosling), spurned suitor Demetrius (Mike Shara) and the besotted Helena (Liisa Repo-Martell).

Read the full review on the Beacon Herald’s website.

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