The wonderful British theatrical productions captured live on film and distributed by National Theatre Live don’t make it to all participating US cinemas at the same time, and sometimes the Rosendale Theatre is one of the last to get them. That means that you have another chance this weekend to catch Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as rendered by London’s Bridge Theatre under the direction of Nicholas Hytner, if you didn’t when it first made the rounds last fall.
Dream may be the most frequently produced of the Bard’s plays, and it takes something special to coax some of us out to see it yet again. This is one of those special productions, conceived by Hytner in part as homage to Peter Brook’s groundbreaking 1970 version. The performance is immersively staged with half the audience on their feet, moving around the perimeter and interacting with the actors. There’s no fourth wall to speak of – nor much of a ceiling, with the fae-folk often dangling from silken trapezes. Scattered brass bedsteads conceal trapdoors, allowing surprising entrances and exits in this enchanted forest. And gender-fluidity is a provocative part of the magic, with the squabbling young Athenian couples sometimes kissing the wrong guy instead of the wrong gal and vice versa. Most audacious of all, some of Titania and Oberon’s lines get swapped, with the Fairy King the one who drinks the love potion and becomes enamored of the donkeyfied Bottom.
For many, the big draw here will be the casting of the splendidly regal and funny Gwendoline Christie – who memorably played Brienne of Tarth, the formidable woman warrior (and only genuinely honorable knight, though she couldn’t claim that title) in Game of Thrones – in the dual role of Titania and Hippolyta, with Oliver Chris as her counterparts, Oberon and Theseus. David Moorst drew critical praise for his petulant Puck, and Hammed Animashaun for his winsome portrayal of the innocent “rude mechanical” led astray by fairy revenge schemes, Bottom. Paul Adeyefa plays Demetrius, Tessa Bonham Jones is Helena, Isis Hainsworth is Hermia and Kit Young is Lysander.
The Guardian termed this production “pleasantly bonkers” and “a delirious party.” Catch it on Sunday afternoon for $12 general admission, $10 for Rosendale Theatre Collective members. Showtime is 2 p.m. on February 23.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday, Feb. 23, 2 p.m.
408 Main St. (Rte. 213), Rosendale