Review: Just the Right Moment for Gamm's 'Midsummer Night's Dream'

by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday May 16, 2022

L to R: Marc Pierre and Taavon Gamble in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Gamm
L to R: Marc Pierre and Taavon Gamble in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Gamm  

Few Shakespeare plays have the legs of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It has been adapted into an opera; Mendelssohn wrote incidental music for a staged production; there have been numerous ballets; modern, even revolutionary stage adaptations; and the disco-inspired "The Donkey Show," which set the romantic comedy in a nightclub. The property has been around so long that most theatergoers can recount at least one memory of seeing it in its many forms.†

Closing its 37th season with this comedy, the Gamm has found the right moment to bring this fanciful and fun tale to audiences that are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. (COVID has caused a number of performances to be canceled.) Director Fred Sullivan, Jr., who has a long history of directing at the Gamm, lends a deft hand and showcases the talent that lives and breathes here.

Firstly, the set design by Patrick Lynch evokes ancient Athens and its nearby forest in ways both simple and elaborate that act as a playground for the actors to frolic. Platforms, ramps, and poles flank Chinese lanterns and one large illuminated moon. Jeff Adelberg's lighting brings subtlety to these proceedings and is not overdone. But it's the actors who bring the true magic to this performance, and they're all in.

The play demands a large cast, but standing out as the four lovers are Angelique M. C'Dina (last seen in "An Octoroon" here,) Nora Eschenheimer, Erik Roble, and Michael Underhill. They are energetic, frantic, and funny as they're toyed with by the King of the Fairies Oberon (a fabulous Deb Martin) and Puck (the incredibly versatile Marc Pierre, also from "An Octoroon,"). Michael Liebhauser's Titania, dressed in an evening cocktail dress, is clearly enjoying the experience, even as the character is made to fall for an actor transformed into a donkey.†

Speaking of the troupe rehearsing for the wedding between Duke Theseus' (Taavon Gamble, Trinity Repertory Company) and Hippolyta (Katie Flanagan), both Tony Estrella (Bottom) and newcomer to Gamm Zachary Gibb are having the most fun; so much so that the rest of the troupe has much work trying to keep up. Jim O'Brien is perhaps too little used as Snug, but makes the most of his short times onstage. But with such rich roles in "Dream," there's much to see and hear, and this cast is a solid one, giving not only new flair but some musical accents as well.†

Sullivan Jr. has played several of these characters in his career, so who better to guide this one? The best way, perhaps, to explore Shakespeare is to see it performed by true professionals, and this is the place to view one of his most famous works in a theatrical "jungle gym" where the players are able to put their best sandals forward.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is playing through May 29th at The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI 02886. Patrons must present either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test before entry. Masks are required for all patrons while in the venue. For information or tickets call 401-723-4266 or visit www.gammtheatre.org.