“Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make the females mad.”
And so it goes. William Shakespeare included those words in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” now in production at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. Please allow a brief disclosure: Shakespeare makes me uneasy. Early Modern English is not used in my home nor in any typical conversation I might have. “Farewell thou lob of spirits” has nothing to do with a tennis stroke gone horribly wrong.
However, when a Shakespeare production is combined with a “selfie” of the characters on stage, I relax a little. And that is how “Midsummer” director Craig Huisenga chose to present the five-act play that runs through April 19. The costumes, music and props are contemporary - cell phones, I-Pads, Birkenstocks and rock ’n’ roll accompany the words that Shakespeare penned in the mid 1590s.
Love, lust, betrayal and power are the timeless thematic overtones that bring this production to life. But the actors are the fiber of this Black Box experience at NOVA.
Daniel Zent absolutely gobbles the stage as Bottom, a stage-struck member of a troupe of amateur actors set to perform at the wedding of the Duke of Athens. His engaging gestures, comedic timing and clarity of character are a stand-out in this mostly young, talented cast.
Taylor Larson exhibits an equal grasp of his character as Lysander with deer-in-the-headlights innocence and desperate love for Hermia.
Lauren Lane shines as Hermia, the willful daughter of Egeus, a nobleman. She wants to marry Lysander, but dad (portrayed by Gary Treglown) has his heart set on Demetrius as a future son-in-law.
Adrian Larson brings passion to the role of the spurned Demetrius as he follows Hermia and Lysander into the woods where they plan to elope. Grace Iverson is spirited and energetic in her portrayal of Helena, Hermia’s best friend.
Helena is also in love with Demetrius, despite his constant rejections, but will do whatever it takes to win her man.
Add a few misguided, magical fairies to the plot and things really begin to bubble up. Carl Redman as Oberon and Kassidy Miller as Titania are equally poised and powerful portraying the king and queen of the fairies. Avery Jam is delightful as the obedient fairy, Puck, whose ineptitude creates new chaos for the young mortal lovers.
With three interwoven plots, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is anything but boring. The NOVA cast and production crew capably deliver all three.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performs April 17, 18 and 19 with curtain at 7:30 p.m. at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, 2317 Montana Ave. Call 591-9535 for tickets.