The Shakespeare Tavern always offers good food, a good performance, and an overall good time. The Tavern is currently in the midst of its Shakespeare Evolution series, a multi-year endeavor to perform the Bard’s plays in the order scholars believe they were originally written and performed, genre by genre. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company (ASC) is currently working through the comedies of Shakespeare, performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice in January.
The opening night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was extraordinary. The play itself was very energetic and fast-moving, presenting natural choreography and effortless delivery by the actors. There were no small parts in this play, as each actor had a chance to shine.
Jonathan Horne depicted a very noble Oberon, while Tiffany Porter as Titania enraptured the audience, using the natural essence of her body language and billowing cloak to suggest fairy wings. Troy Willis’ interpretation of Peaseblossom, complete with a Jersey-sounding accent, demonstrated unrivaled skill and artistic freedom. During the lovers’ confrontation, the choreography was amazing; the emotion conveyed by Eliana Marianes (as Helena) affected each character in the scene. J. Tony Brown, a seasoned ASC actor, played a phenomenal role as Snug the joiner, particularly as the lion in the play-within-a-play: timid and sweet (for a ferocious lion), which was hilarious in its ironic portrayal.
Of course, no discussion of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is complete without Puck. Traditionally, Puck’s role in the play is pivotal, despite his limited stage time, since his antics create and progress the plot. However, Daniel Parvis’ Puck seemed to downplay the character’s significance. Nonetheless, Parvis played an impish Puck who did at times appear larger than life, particularly as Puck summoned the darkness to envelop the lovers. In addition, Parvis’ delivery of Puck’s ending monologue was stately and elegant, sincerely entreating the audience to forgive any offenses.
While this production makes a great introduction to Shakespeare, especially for those who aren’t usually interested in Shakespeare, I would recommend reading the play’s synopsis in the playbill before the performance. Some actors play more than one character, which is indicated by a costume change; however, unless specifically noted, the character changes could become a tad confusing.
The ASC will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in repertory with The Merchant of Venice at The New American Shakespeare Tavern through January 29. For tickets and more information, please visit www.shakespearetavern.com.
– Sue Cochran