[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of A Noise Within’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare, directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott, and running through November 12.
There’s something determinedly alternative to A Noise Within’s approach to storytelling. Not obnoxiously so…far from it. They seem to delight in finding a new path, a lesser trodden one, to tell classic tales and with electric results.
Thusly, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the perfect play for the abstract, curious minds of this beautifully, brazenly bold company of actors led with glorious purpose by the utterly inspired Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott.
It’s the perfect Shakespearean romp. A crowd favourite from its very beginnings over four hundred years ago. A story of lovers and families, fairy queens and sprites, jealousy and forgiveness and a lot of spells. An actor, Bottom, who is given the head of an Ass by the king of the fairies for the queen Titania to fall in love with and his hapless troop, god bless them all, unwittingly terrible actors who in the end are most tenderly treated. Which is probably the thing I love the most about this wonderful wonderful play.
A Noise Within’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is stunning. The stage mostly bare, the actors seemingly infused with light they are so incredibly good. Gorgeous costumes, beautiful music and lighting, exquisite set design and an inspired opening with rain misting down from the rafters of the stage to the actors below…
Every scene is brilliant and the aching nature of the love that is the constant thread buzzes in the air. The young love of the two couples lost in the woods, spells twisting them up, the old love between the Queen and her King and her new love for her changeling child. The actors troop’s love for each other as they gently support their fumbling efforts to produce a play. Even the impish Puck, who you might think loves no one but himself, but whose love for life is his greatest gift.
The staging of this play is perfection. But this theatre, with its raised stage, high rafters and wide wings, really gives every play the chance for greatness. They really do use the stage so beautifully…dare I say cinematically for this production. The incredible use of wires for Puck and the first fairy at pivotal moments in the story was really breathtaking.
The performances from this wonderful and talented group of actors were extraordinary, mesmerising. Watching them on stage feeding off each other, playing together, listening, watching, connecting…it was truly magnificent. No need to pick anyone in particular out, they are all marvelous and made more so by each other I am certain. They really are a company in the true sense of the word, and they could read the phone book and transport me so imagine what they can do with Shakespeare!!
If you love Shakespeare, then A Noise Within is the company for you and this phenomenal production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a must see. Perfectly placed in their season of works, nosing us into the fall and the holidays. Reminding us of family and how lucky we all are to be together and loved. It is Shakespeare at his most sentimental and playful…and don’t we all desperately need that now?
Oh, the power of art to transport us somewhere magical for a few hours.
I highly recommend “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at A Noise Within. Please see this beautiful play.
Running through November 12.
A Noise Within Theatre
3352 E Foothill Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91107
A Noise Within’s stellar company of lovers, fairies and clowns includes Zach Kenney and Trisha Miller doubling as the two most contentious couples, Theseus and Hippolyta and Oberon and Titania, with the younger lovers portrayed by Jeanne Syquia as Helena, Rafael Goldstein as Demetrius, Erika Soto as Hermia and Riley Shanahan as Lysander. Kasey Mahaffy plays that contrarian purveyor of chaos, Puck, with Cassandra Marie Murphy as the First Fairy. The hilarious mechanicals include Frederick Stuart as Nick Bottom, Veralyn Jones as Peter Quince, Ed F. Martin as Flute, and Brendan Mulligan as Snug. The ensemble is rounded out by East Los Angeles College theater department graduates Hakop Mkhsian and Erick Valenzuela.
The creative team includes scenic designer Frederica Nascimento; lighting designer Ken Booth; composer and sound designer Robert Oriol; costume designer Angela Balogh Calin; wig and makeup designer Tony Valdés; properties designer Stephen Taylor; and dramaturg Dr. Miranda Johnson–Haddad. The production stage manager is Angela Sonner, with Talya Camras assisting.