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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Theatre review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a light-hearted spin on a classic

Alchemy Theatre and Vagabond Players pull off the kid gloves in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a few modern updates, the young cast and crew make the play their own in an enjoyable show.

The play follows a quartet of mismatched lovers as they wander the woods of the faerie king and queen. The mischievous faeries toy with the lovers and a band of wandering actors, but as dawn approaches, the tricks are reversed and all is returned to normal.

What this production gets right is that it doesn’t take the play too seriously. Meghan Trainor serenades Titania and Bottom’s romp in the bower, Oberon toys with actual voodoo dolls, while selfies and rap breaks ensure that everything remains lighthearted.

Ally Schuurman plays Helena as a sarcastically fatalistic heroine rather than the more traditional doormat, allowing the jokes at her expense to fly guilt-free. Carly June Friesen’s Hermia and Kyle Wipp’s Lysander are suitably innocuous while Matt Veenbaas’ Demetrius succeeds in being callous without seeming mean-spirited. But the lovers never were the main focus of the play as the faeries pull focus in every scene.Claire Temple’s Moth is a particular stand out with a joyous performance that is effortlessly watchable, but it is the temperamental bro-mance of Joshua Tompke’s Oberon and Boris Bilic’s Puck that keeps the sluggish first half interesting.

The second half belongs to Bottom (Matthew Simmons) and his band of actors.  The play within a play is often cut, but this production makes you wonder why. Julien Amar’s Snout steals the show with his portrayal of the Wall while Alex Ross’ Flute is one costume malfunction away from a viral YouTube video. I could have watched it for hours.

Alchemy Theatre and Vagabond Players have put on a strong version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While it gets funnier as the show goes on, the young actors do struggle to maintain the energy as well as the comedy from scene to scene. That said, the play never takes itself too seriously and is perfect fare for a warm summer’s eve.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. An Alchemy Theatre and Vagabond Players co-production. On stage at The Bernie Legge Theatre (Queen’s Park, New Westminster) until August 16. Visit for tickets and information.

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