This fall, Stone Bridge's Running Dog Productions lifts Cupid's bow and takes aim at Shakespeare's most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, inspired in costume, music, and dance by the culture of India. Since both Oberon and Titania, the fairy king and queen, spend a lot of time there, it seems fitting that their subjects have a special relationship with the subcontinent. England's own robust commerce with India probably spurred Shakespeare's original inclusion of the multiple references to the ancient land.
Running Dog uses every weapon in its story telling arsenal to light up this tangled love story—not just the fully-imagined and colorful characterizations of the actors, but also re-enactments, careful resplicing of scenes, judicious editing, mask acting, original music, fresh choreography, and the usual full array of sound and visual effects. The result is a fun, clear story that never bogs down in lyrical quicksand.
Magic pervades the enchanted wood. Oberon and Titania, imperiously played by Mace Sorensen and Sabrina Ripperger, rashly invade the world of their sometime consorts, the human Duke Theseus (Danny Joyce) and the captured warrior queen Hyppolyta (Jillian Kinder). Also bridging the worlds of humans and fairies are the pairs of humorously melodramatic lovers—Hermia and Lysander (Jenny Abercrombie and Garrett Brennan) and Helena and Demetrius (Katelyn Dolphin and James Cook)—who stumble into the magic forest. There, they are victimized by meddling fairies like Puck—one of Shakespeare's most gloriously anarchic creations, played by junior Zach Kopciak as if the role had been written for him.
Also cutting a swath of broad comedy through all the benign madness is the band of "rude mechanicals," (Amanda Conroy, John Klenk, Chelsea Sorensen, Chris Osmers, Rachel Bond and AJ Pendola), terrific comedians all, whose "play-within-a-play" brings the show to a vaudevillian crescendo. Watch for some beautiful dance as well; Tori Szczniak, Sabrina Ripperger, and Chelsea Sorensen modeled their movement on traditional Indian forms, with accompaniment by both recorded Punjabi folksongs and live tabla playing by Kori Kibling and Evan Walters.
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