A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by William Shakespeare, presented by Allegoria at the Poor Alex. See listings, page 70. Rating: NN
Part of the proceeds from Allegoria's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream go to Covenant House.
That's what I kept reminding myself as I watched this largely squandered version of Shakespeare's popular comedy.
Director Marisa Victor has set it in today's Toronto, with gender-bending and homelessness her points of reference. She never blends the contemporary elements with the text (Why does a Bay Street Theseus have the power to send a private-school Hermia to a nunnery? Why are the fairies clubland types?) and emphasizes surface look over story and character. If you use a drag Titania (John Wallace), define her by something beyond camp gestures. There's nothing wrong with a dark Dream, but it's got to resonate.
While many performances grate, a few actors stand out. Claire Calnan, though directed over the top, gives Helena some comic moments and a sense of variety. A.J. Pittis's Bottom, with his easy delivery and humour, is the production's greatest strength. He even manages a genuinely touching moment toward the end of this largely misguided, unmagical Dream.