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Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

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4.5 stars

Actors from the London Stage at Butler University Theatre, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, Oct. 27-29. I felt like Elizabeth I during this production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Who but the queen could command a cast to work so hard and bring such skill to bear? In this self-directed troupe, five actors tackle all the roles: four romantic couples, six Athenians, six fairies, one tough elf, one angry father, and a couple of walk-ons. With only scarves and hats for costumes and five chairs used in only one scene, the five-act comedy rests entirely on the actors' skill to conjure romance, mischief, revenge, bestiality, stage egoism and stage fright in a forest that is not there. The memorization stunt, though great, never upstages the acting magic and actually adds to the humor when props must stand in briefly for actors who play more than one role in a scene. In fact, compared to other productions I've seen, the actors get more comedic mileage from the four mismatched lovers, more sex appeal from the fairy queen and king, more glee from attending fairies (male and female), more bawdy humor from Bottom and his fellow laborers-turned-actors, and more menace from the doggerel-plagued Puck. It is a thrill when actors make you feel that they have invented on the spot, not just the story, but theater itself. 940-9659; www.butler.edu/theatre.

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