BOTTOM LINE: A witty, edgy, and thoroughly entertaining return to Athens’ forest that does the original play justice.
In a fun sequel to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the newlywed lovers head back to the enchanted forest on Halloween night—and magical mayhem ensues. This night, the King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon (Ryan G. Metzger) and Titania (Michelle Ramoni), must sacrifice a mortal soul to hell or be sent there themselves.
Helena (Kelly Nichols) and Hermia (Rebecca Hirota) are finding wedded bliss less blissful than expected. The newly pregnant Helena can’t keep Demetrius’ (Matt Falber) hands off her while Hermia can’t find a way to get Lysander’s (Shawn McLaughlin) hands on her. In a thin ploy to get the principal characters into the forest, David Pflaster’s script has Demetrius suspecting Helena of infidelity and heading to the woods to “think,” with Lysander accompanying him. Overhearing the men’s plan, the two women don disguises and follow them, accompanied by Nick Bottom (Eric C. Bailey), who has become a huge comedic star but only wants to taken seriously. Rounding out the group are Puck (a sprightly Clara Barton Green) and a new fairy, Pumpkinseed (Tania Jeudy), who are up to their usual mischief. With the fairies pulling the strings in the background, this walk in the woods quickly becomes a very Shakespearean comedic bungle. Lysander confesses homosexual urges, Hermia propositions Bottom, and Demetrius gets naked. And it is all acted with infectious spirit. There is not a weak link in this gorgeous, enthusiastic cast.
The dialogue simulates Shakespearean verse with the occasional hilarious veer into modern language; “I want not the fount of rumor—not—well, I want people not to know about it,” says Demetrius. Pflaster, who also directs The Thyme of the Season, pays homage to the original text in ways avid Midsummer Night's fans will love. Hermia is still physically “little” (and definitely “fierce”), Nick Bottom still misuses phrases, and there are several puns on original lines (“I go to think, perchance to nap,” Oberon announces at one point).
Another great aspect of The Thyme of the Season is Mark Richard Caswell’s rich, colorful costuming. The beautiful clothes and the evocative original music, provided by Matthew Applebaum and Michelle O’Connor, more than compensate for the small, bare stage.
(The Thyme of the Season is part of the Planet Connections Festivity and plays at the Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street. Remaining performances are June 11th at 5:30pm, June 13th at 11:30am, June 18th at 5pm, June 19th at 7pm, and June 23th at 5:30pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com or by calling 866.811.4111. Proceeds from this production benefit PLANNED PARENTHOOD.)