A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
LA WEELY (Steven Leigh Morris)
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: A Whimsical Thrance A blend of theater and dance (“thrance”), director-choreographer Jessica Schroeder’s staging of a much abbreviated A Midsumer Night’s Dream soars like Daedalus on the wings of dance, until it gets too close to the sun — the play itself — where many of the marvelous dancers can’t negotiate Shakespeare’s speeches and dialogue with much flair. It’s actually interesting to see so many performers move so beautifully and then take a stylistic plunge when asked to speak, demonstrating how acting style and dance style are separate beasts. Schroeder casts her company gender-blindly, with the fairy king and queen both played by women (Sasha Carrera and Sarah Leseley), as is Lysander (the charming C.J. Merriman), who matches the fairly diminutive stature of the fellow playing Hermia (Trieu Dylan Tran). Naturally, all this gender-bending throws the couplings into some provocative combinations. Atim Udoffia’s towering Helena segues seamlessly from portraying her clumsy, befuddled character then snappily cavorting to Liz Phair’s “Extraordinary.” Joseph Beck’s portrayal of Bottom similarly shows a pleasing command of both text and movement. In musicals, when characters exhaust their expressiveness with speech, they burst into song. Here, they burst into dance: There’s something quite glorious about seeing the fairy aristocracy and the foolish community player all swaying to Tito Puente. With this company, the piece probably needs to be tilted away from theater and more toward ballet. The flowing silk of Etta Ray’s lovely costumes emblemize this production’s fluid grace.