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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Multidisciplinary Romp in the Woods

Theatre Gigante revamps ‘Midsummer’

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Theatre Gigante’s Midsummer in Midwinter, is a well-crafted and -executed new take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream told through dialogue, music and dance. Artistic Directors Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson wrote the script, drawing inspiration from the original but giving it a modern setting and distinct plot.

The story centers on two middle-aged couples. We learn that the original marriages between Alex and Jeffrey, and Elaine and Peter each produced a child—Tina and Jimmy, respectively—but that these unions ended in separation. The divorcées then remarried—Alex to Peter, and Elaine to Jeffrey. To further complicate matters, the children are in love!

From this merry premise springs an engaging tale that brings the Bard’s ageless themes of love, jealousy, arrogance and passion to new life.

Kralj and Anderson, as Alex and Jeffrey, and Deborah Clifton and John Kishline, as Elaine and Peter, bring gravitas and relatable humor to the roles of the older couples. Their realization of the joys and worries of parenthood as well as the complex dynamics of marriage are utterly convincing.

Megan Kaminsky and Evan James Koepnick are charming as the younger couple. Boundlessly energetic and often downright silly, their characterizations hinge on the stubborn faith of young love.

Bo Johnson puts in a small but effective performance as the bumbling drifter, Nick, paralleling Shakespeare’s Bottom. With excellent comedic timing, Johnson furnishes some of the story’s key insights, including the claim, “We live only as much as our imaginations allow.”

Molly Corkins steals the show as a hilariously modernized Puck, arguing with her “imaginary friend” Tina and furiously texting instructions to her wayward fey attendants. These attendants—Peaseblossom (Jessie Mae Scibek) and Mustardseed (Edwin Olvera)—provide the dance component of the production. Their effervescent energy, breathtaking dexterity and flawless physical communication serve as an ideal frame for the themes explored.

Singers and instrumentalists Daniel Mitchell and Amanda Huff round out the offering with a successful blend of pop vocal stylings and timeless, mystical sound environs. Their endearing song “I won’t fuck it up this time” is apt and memorable.

Midsummer in Midwinter runs through May 17 at Kenilworth Studio 508, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place. For tickets, visit gigantemidsummer.brownpapertickets.com.