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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midsummer Night’s Magic

Theater Review

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  Ideally, an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamin the middle of summer should capture some of the magic of Shakespeare’s script. Door Shakespeare’s intimate outdoor production captures a fair amount of this magic, and does so in a way so pleasantly unexpected that it actually ends up being one of the more satisfying productions of the summer.

  Costuming ranges from the tastefully simplistic to the laughably incongruous, but even the worst of it is only a mild distraction from what ends up being a thoroughly entertaining show. Nathan Hosner and Saren Nofs-Snyder are quietly dazzling in the roles of both earthly and fairy royalty. The costuming for Noffs-Snyder in the role of fairy queen Titania fits her particularly well. Look closely and you’ll see two tiny wings tattooed on her back that are accentuated by the cut of the costume. Clever.

  The real pleasure in this production rests not, however, on royalty. Nor does it arise from the fantastic nature of fairy/human relations. The bulk of it comes from the comings and goings of the four earthly lovers. Luke Leonhardt plays Demetrius—the man who has been given consent to marry Hermia (played quite charmingly by the diminutive Jennefer Ludwigsen), who is actually in love with the far more romantically-inclined Lysander (Nicholas Harazin). The romantic chemistry is particularly strong between Harazin and Ludwigsen, both of whom offer very sympathetic performances. The romantic triangle is complicated by Helena (Courtney Jones), who longs for Demetrius and chases after him with a fierce passion. Jones, who recently played the title role in In Tandem’s production of The Girl in the Frame, gives a passionate performance here that adds quite a bit to the dynamic between the earthly lovers.

  At the risk of exaggeration, it may be safely stated that the comedy between Jones, Harazin, Ludwigsen and Leonhardt alone is worth the drive up to DoorCounty. The climax of tensions between the four is brilliantly executed. The physical comedy (which seems tastefully inspired in part by Chuck Jones’ old Warner Brothers cartoons) adds raw energy to the already brilliantly performed comic dialogue to make for one of the best scenes to grace Wisconsin stages this summer.

Door Shakespeare’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through August 23 in BaileysHarbor.