Thursday, August 4, 2011

Davenport Junior Theater's A Midsummer Night's Dream

What to say about this amazing play? First off, the Davenport Junior Theater is an amateur acting group for kids ages 3-18, available to anyone in the Quad Cities. And these kids…they have talent, I tell you.

I loved their way of “freshening up” the play. It was campy in an 80’s way, complete with the music and the styles. But oh, the fairies…they looked like the love-children of Rainbow Brite and David Bowie. It worked fabulously, because it added this surreal element to the fairies.

The four love-lorn couples were played well, and I was happy to see they cast a rather tall girl as Helena (she was even taller than Demetrius). Demetrius of course was dressed much more respectably than Lysander, who looked like a typical punk. Theseus and Hippolyta were not so memorable, but I do recall Theseus “facepalming” at one point. The amateur actors, Bottom and Co., were hilarious. They looked like your typical nerd/geeks from 80’s movies, one girl had taped glasses, all of them wore their pants far too high, and Peter Quince was played with the lisping “nerd accent”. Bottom stole the show though. The actress was over the top, loud, and in your face, which was perfect for the part.

And now the fairies. I’ve always been more interested in the fairies than the other parts of the play, which probably says something about me, though I’m not sure what. But this was played perfectly. Oberon could have stepped straight from an 80’s movie, with his torn jeans, transparent shirt, and spiked hair. He did a great job, veering between calm to manic very quickly, and generally acting like someone who is definitely used to getting their way. Titania wore a jean jacket (and also had some of that manic behavior going on), the fairies all had MAD poofy hair (like I said, Brite-Bowie children), and Puck…Puck was ADORABLE with his green hair and his “wanna-be-Oberon” clothes.

The boy who played Puck couldn’t have been more than 8, but he nailed his lines so well. He and Oberon had an excellent dynamic going on, constantly one-upping each other throughout the play. Once the boy messed up by exiting on the wrong side, but he snuck back over and it seemed so natural (especially from Oberon’s reaction) that I thought at first it was scripted. One of the best part, however, was near the beginning. When Titana’s fairies discover he is THE Robin Goodfellow, they scream like fangirls and gather round him, giggling at his every joke, sighing, and generally acting like groupies. Well done, script writer!

However, THE best part was Pyramus and Thisbe...to be precise, their death scenes. Those two are Large Hams to the extreme, and even the other actors were laughing their butts off.

As I said, the play was well done, the actors did an excellent job. A few of them spoke a bit slow, but Shakespeare is not an easy thing to memorize and spout back as if it was natural.

For anyone in the Quad Cities, there are a couple days left to go see this play. Do it! It will be well worth it.

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