KCST celebrates its 30th spring show with an audience favorite.

For its 30th year in a row, the King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe put on an outdoor spring show—this time the well-beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Oliver Davis Fuisz. These outdoor shows are generally traveling ones, moving about different plazas and lawns on campus; however, due to the mud on Friday evening, the performance I attended all took place beneath a tent on Avery Plaza.

The set was perfectly Midsummer: Bohemian fabrics over Titania’s beds, colorful lamps and lights strewn over the ceiling, and green carpets of grass on which the lovers later laid. The set design was one of the more traditional aspects of the show, along with the makeup, which decorated the fairies with the glittering, unearthly patterns audiences love to see when seeing this play performed. I was particularly impressed by the artful design for Bottom’s (Tess Inderbitzin) ass-head, and how easily it was both put on and removed.

The costuming did not present a unified look or aesthetic for the stage. The lovers wore college-student garb, with Lysander and Demetrius (Isaiah Levy and Harvey Runyon) in sports shirts, while Hippolyta and Theseus wore sparkly formal wear, and the fairies wore traditional earth-toned, whimsical dresses and capes. Despite the disjointed looks, there were many dazzling to hilarious costume choices: for example, Titania’s blue gown was as stunningly regal as Cinderella, and I laughed upon seeing Lysander and Demetrius wearing baseball caps reading “GROOM” after the wedding.

The play ran for over 2 hours, but the cast kept the audience enthralled the entire time. The acting could overall be described as intense, in a variety of wonderful ways. Hermia (Alex Prezeau) was intensely genuine and determined, truly selling her romance with Lysander, while Helena (Gaia Di Mitri) perfectly captured Helena’s insanity with both humor and a power to truly make the audience empathize. Her delivery was so tumultuous that at times I wondered if it was more than an accident that the wind would howl and whip at the side of the tents during her most frantic monologues. Levy and Runyon worked well with these two powerhouse actresses—Runyon’s body language made Demetrius an appropriate mix of rude, sympathetic, and funny, and while more toned-down than Runyon, Levy was convincing as a naive young man and was responsible for many audience laughs. Each fairy was both funny and mesmerizing. I enjoyed Titania’s (Raja Saeed) consistent regality, and Oberon (Callie Updike) was perfectly played as a man-child with too much power. Wren Pfetcher was the ideal Puck—energetic, noisy, and unapologetically ready to cause mischief. Of course, the play would not have been what it was without the ensemble, whose antics in the background sold the comedy and harmonies and dance in the songs made the show a spectacle to behold.

I was surprised to find that my favorite scenes were those about the play-within-a-play. Bottom is my favorite Midsummer character, and Inderbitzin far exceeded expectations: they were campy; they were annoying; they had facial expressions and gestures as ridiculous (yet genuine) as Bottom is meant to be. But the entire play-within-a-play cast were perhaps the most humorous part of the show: between Quince’s (Jon Pankauski) constant frustration, Starveling’s (Liv Dwyer) naive eagerness, Snug’s (Octavia Reohr) shyness and Flute’s (Miles Wiedmann) bored performance. Evan Rossi as Snout as the Wall made me keel with laughter, especially as Bottom, hamming it up, began to make out with the crevice of his fingers. The play scene was a particularly immersive and hysterical moment, as the newlyweds joined us in the audience to poke fun at the play, and the dramatic stage lighting expertly made it seem like we were watching a failed performance rather than a brilliant one.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I believe Fuisz deserves particular praise for his casting and directing choices, such as distributing more of the lines in the play scene to the women characters and having Oberon and Titania be played in drag. Overall, the entire cast and crew put on an amazing show, the sort of chaotic spectacle one sees Shakespeare for.  This KCST spring performance was one you would not have wanted to miss.

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