Was Shakespeare a Flower Child?
by Katherine Rodgers of The Benjamin School
Amidst the chaos of his classic play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the groovy era of the ’60s was woven into the thematic structure of a unique take. This weekend, St Thomas Aquinas showcased their twist on classic literature.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is divided into three major plots: a messy love rectangle (not a triangle), a struggling theatre troupe’s efforts to perform a showstopping play, and a mythical – one could say trippy – land of the fairy kingdom. All groups ultimately act in preparation for the big wedding between the Duke and Duchess. The play acts as a satirical comedy poking fun at Shakespeare’s previous, more cheesy works.
All actors in this performance should be commended for their impressive retention of the classically complex lines of the Shakespearean play. However, some actors struggled to annunciate their words and thus some of the context of the play was lost on the audience. Ava T. Fowler in the role of Helena, however, took on this challenge with clear and precise diction that made her the focal point of any scene she was in. Her dedication to bringing realism into a piece that is generally far from reality was highly commendable and made the audience truly empathize with her character.
Although the creativity level of the show was extremely high, the attempt at a sixties world was somewhat lost. While the costumes, made by Emma Coronado and Celeste Estrada were impeccably detailed and true to the decade, the show as a whole did not actually feel immersed in the era beyond the attire of the characters. Furthermore, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is already a relatively complex and chaotic play, and when yet another feature was added on top of the plot, it was sometimes hard to focus on and follow.
The technical elements of the show, however, reached a professional level that is almost unseen in high school productions. From the mood-driven lighting to the impressive ariel stunts from the theater ceiling, the tech team deserves a round of applause. These elements helped to redeem some of the other missing elements from the production.
Whilst a groovy Shakespeare is highly creative and visually appealing, more attention was needed on clear character work, chemistry, diction, and stage focus.