passe muraille's a midsummer night's dream by William Shakespeare, directed by Kate Lynch, with Catherine Fitch, Diane Flacks, Ruth Madoc-Jones, Karen Robinson, Waneta Storms, Camille Stubel and Kristen Thomson. Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs to November 18, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $21-$30, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN
passe muraille's a midsummer Night's Dream features an all-female cast. Maybe that explains why the show's humour is so... broad.Sorry about the pun. But that's the level of sophistication of much of this ambitious, highly flawed production.
The long-time brainchild of director Kate Lynch, this take on Shakespeare's bucolic romp of a comedy begins well. The talented cast, playing Amazons, toss around men's butchered heads, blow into conch shells and eventually act out the play for their own enjoyment, campfire-style.
So far, so good.
The Amazon scenario quickly loses steam, though, and there's little variance in tone or style, despite the fact that the play requires four separate groups of characters.
There are some initial sharp insights into gender and power, with Diane Flacks and Waneta Storms pairing up as Theseus and Hippolyta and then doing a telling switcheroo as Titania and Oberon.
What this production lacks is focus. An early environmental theme goes nowhere. And throughout, the performers speak their lines archly, their words inside quotation marks, something that can be only partly explained by the play-within-a-play set-up.
Ultimately, the multitasking performers are given too much freedom, resulting in both brilliance and banality. Flacks, Kristen Thomson and Storms have their moments, but only Catherine Fitch looks like she's made solid choices about her characters.
The scene transitions are handled beautifully, and Steve Lucas's designs are stunning, though the lighting is a bit too harsh and bright to reflect the show's title. A Dream? Not quite.