The Bard Comes to Marywood: A Midsummer/Midwinter's Night Dream

David Brace (Oberon) and Nicole Dobosh (Puck) plot fairy mischief in A Midsummer/Midwinter Night’s Dream. Photo Credit: Tara Maziarz.

By Mandy Boyle
Advertising Sales Manager/Entertainment Editor

On February 20 and 21, the Marywood theatre company captured the essence of one of William Shakespeare’s greatest works in its production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The story portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke and Duchess of Athens, and with the fairies who inhabit an enchanted moonlit forest. Mischief, mistaken identity, and the powers of love played center stage in this playful romantic comedy presented so well by Marywood’s theatre department. Overall, I would have to say that this is one of my favorite main stage productions.

Unlike most productions where the setting is obviously in midsummer, Marywood’s performance had a much welcome twist, as the story instead took place in midwinter, adding to, what I suspected to be, the overall playful mood of fairies causing the seasons to go awry. The artistic vision of director Ann Brady was definitely made reality.

Shakespearean productions can tend to be a challenge for many theatre groups, however, Marywood’s cast shone. Each actor portrayed his or her character wonderfully, speaking the Bard’s greatest words with emotion and feeling that I had never even seen the quality of in another local production.

From regal Oberon (played by David Brace) to the hilarious Bottom (Mark Baron), the male cast of the production was incredibly well suited to each role. The female cast, anchored by the strong performances of the lovers Hermia (Maureen Arscott) and Helena (Elizabeth Smith), Oberon’s mischievous servant Puck (Nicole Dobosh), and the fairy queen Titania (Rebecca Lighthizer), matched the skill of the male cast with performances that really brought you into the enchanted forest and all of its antics.

In terms of set and lighting, the production was gorgeously designed, featuring barren trees, a snowy ground, and a stunning backdrop that showed the passage of time during this interesting night outside of Athens. The sound was also uniquely designed, as scenes were separated by musical selections that I would have never thought to include, but worked very well in capturing the personalities of the characters.

The costumes were fabulous and innovative, portraying the characters in ways that I had never seen before. Puck’s blue skin and curved horns were a particular favorite, while the lovers’ student attire accented their archetypal characters. The fairies, including Oberon and Titania, had stunning costumes that accentuated their playful and ethereal natures – right down to the elf ears. Not to mention, the amateur actors were also incredibly costumed, showcasing a sort of slap-stick personality that makes the troupe so wonderful. Bottom’s donkey costume, as the result of a fairy spell, was both hilarious and well done.

Overall- a splendid job by everyone involved. From the set to the costumes, the acting talent to the direction, A Midsummer/Midwinter’s Night Dream was a superior production for Marywood’s theatre department.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the production, I highly recommend reading the play, which is sure to be found in our library. As one of Shakespeare’s greatest works, anyone can appreciate the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, especially if they find themselves to tend towards romantic comedies.