Between the striking visuals and sound design, the tasteful integration of detail and the cast’s mastery of Shakespeare, the performance was nothing short of breathtaking.
The story opens on the young lovers Hermia (Arielle Yoder) and Lysander (Schuyler Scott Mastain) who are forced apart by Hermia’s betrothal to Demetrius (William Hughes). Hoping to remain together, they flee into the woodland domain of the fairies and enter into a realm of dreams.
At the same time, a comical troop of actors ventures into the woods to rehearse, falling victim to the will of the capricious king and queen of fairies.
From start to finish, the set and sound design transported the audience and characters from the real world into this realm of magic.
The stage seems initially bare but explodes with life as the fairies reveal their presence. The lights flash like lightning and water rains down from the ceiling, drenching those on stage; the plastic-wrapped trees are suddenly filled with color, and the floor opens to reveal the fairy queen, Titania (Lisa Birnbaum).
Throughout the show, intense musical tones and string-heavy interludes guided characters through motion and create a sense of the ethereal. The smaller sound effects — such as a harp to convey falling in love — were used tastefully to incite laughter or add flair to different scenes.
Director Shana Cooper and scenic designer Marion Williams deserve special mention for their creative considerations, but also for the stunning incorporation of props into the thematic setting. Their careful thought gave the play technical depth and an astonishing substance to its fantasy.
What was perhaps most impressive about the performance was the powerful dynamic between overtly talented cast members.
Though there were many bright lights, of particular note was the king of fairies Oberon (Zachary Fine) and his fairy henchman Puck (Ray Dooley).
Fine captured Oberon’s magnetism and emotional oscillations in a jittery, almost flirtatious fashion. Fine spoke every line deliberately, moving through a range of emotions with each new speaker.
Dooley too was versaitle, portraying multiple roles. As Puck, he embodied a simultaneously silly and frightening figure, capturing attention with eerie monologues and whimsical physicality.
The combined talents of the cast and crew brought the comedy to life with a sensational style that is worthy of praise.