As we approach Midsummer’s Eve, it’s a perfect occasion for Bard on the Beach to return to the tent after a long pandemic-hiatus with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Shakespeare’s 425 year old comedy features a series of interconnected storylines woven around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. Mix in a selection of star-crossed lovers, juggle a quintet of players – a play within the play, sprinkle a handful of fairies and goblins, add a couple of queens – human + fairy kind, and stir in a troublemaking fairy king and his mischevious minion, Puck. Combine them all together with a bit of reality in Athens and dash of magic in a mystic forest dell for perfect recipe of chaos and laughter.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream holds a special place with Bard on the Beach, being its very first production in 1990 and revisited many times since including on the 10th and 25th anniversary, so what better play to bring audiences back after two dark summers. From the crowds and enthusiasm on opening night, audiences are certainly ready to come out of the dark and just like A Midsummer Night’s Dream open our eyes to a new world.
Bard veteran Scott Bellis directs a cast of returning Bard players and newcomers including a selection of the fairies from the Dance Program at SFU School of Contemporary Arts. Back for his 10th season Ian Butcher leads off the play as Duke Theseus, while Melissa Oei makes her Bard debut in a regal turn as Hippolyta. In the magical forest, Kate Besworth is ethereal as Titania the Fairy Queen contrasting with Billy Marchenski’s Oberon King of the Fairies. A spritely Sarah Roa as Puck ties the real world of the Athenians together with the Fairy-world. Standing out for non-stop laughter Carly Street brings the house down with her comedic 4th wall-breaking turn as Bottom one of the players in the slapstick play being put on for the royal wedding.
Scenery Designer Amir Ofek’s wide open set with the beauty of English Bay and mountains beyond, creates the city of Athens and the magic of the forest while leaving space for Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg and Fight Director Jonathan Hawley Purvis to make use of the ample stage for their work with the cast and ensemble. Especially with the fairies, Christine Reimer’s costume designs shine, creating a range of garments from early-1900s to the woodland creatures.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays the Bard on the Beach Main Stage until September 24 (note: this the only Main Stage production this year). Find tickets online at bardonthebeach.org. Special Event performances include Bard-B-Q & Fireworks July 23, 27 & 30 at 5pm. Family Days offer Relaxed Performances July 17 & August 14.