The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s second offering this summer is the Bard’s classic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play runs weekends until 8/18th in the Meadow at Evergreen Museum on Charles Street, with command performances at Boordy Vineyards on 8/23 and at the company’s winter residence at the Great Hall at St. Mary’s in Hamden on 8/24 and 25.
Midsummer is a lovely companion piece to the Factory’s earlier summer production of Hamlet. It is lighter and full of mirth. A sweet ending to a meaty Danish feast.
Much of that mirth is due to two of the players, Jenna Rossman (Puck) and Zach Brewster-Geisz (Nick Bottom). Shakespeare sets Puck and Bottom up as comedy relief and Rossman and Brewster-Geisz steal the show. — I feel for the less raucous (but wonderfully played) lovers and nobles who have to compete with Puck and Bottom for the audience’s attention.
Rossman’s Puck strutted, preened and danced around like some Isadora Duncan nymph channeling Mick Jagger (in a good way). She seemed to be everywhere. It was a delight to watch her weave her magic both over the characters in the play and over the audience.
Brewster-Geisz’s Nick Bottom was simply a hoot. It’s a funny part on paper, but Zach really brought Bottom to life. Ever meet some one who thinks they can do everything better than any one else? That’s Nick Bottom. He’s so over the top. It’s just wonderful. Brewster-Geisz’s transformation from the uber confident self-proclaimed leader of the acting troop to the confused donkey-headed man who finds himself the lucky recipient of Titania’s affection is nicely done as well.
The lovers quartet — Hermia , Lysander, Helena and Demetrius — is also strong. Lisa Davidson, Tanner Medding, Shaina Higgins, and Rick Lyon-Vaiden are in turns earnest, funny, feisty and gob-smack in love — though not always with the right people.
The rest of the cast is tight as well. Joel Ottenheimer and Laura Rocklyn are noble and appropriately pompous as the Royals (both in the “real” world and in Fairy). Lee Condreacci, as Peter Quince, did her best to keep the players and Nick Bottom under control. Lisa Bryan, Lorriane Imwold, Lonnie DeVaughn Simmons, Emily Sucher and Tegan William are the backbone of the production as they round out the company, each playing multiple roles as fairies and players.
I love how FACTORY members perform modern music that relates to the show in the pre-show and intermission. It is yet another level on which the players relate to the audience. And it gives us a glimpse at how multi-talented these actors really are.
Be sure to stay after the curtain call for the “Cast Talk” when the cast and directors are happy to answer all questions Shakespearian.
The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory continues its Play On. 4 FREE. 4 Ever. campaign with the goal of bringing Shakespeare to all for free by 2016. To learn how you can help or to get tickets to an upcoming show visit their website at http://theshakespearefactory.com/