A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
by William Shakespeare, directed by Chris Earle, with Brett Christopher, Oliver Dennis, Victor Ertmanis, Jennifer Finestone, Caroline Gillis, Melody A. Johnson, Amber Lewis, Graeme Somerville, Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis. Presented by Equity Showcase and George Brown Theatre School at Showcase (651 Dufferin). Runs to February 25, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $15-$18, Sunday pwyc. 416-533-9231. Rating: NNN for sheer theatrical exuber- ance, it's hard to beat Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with its three sets of interacting characters and its tangled love stories. But to hit the heights, it needs a passion that's missing from the Equity Showcase/ George Brown Theatre School co-pro directed by Chris Earle.
On the plus side, the combination of graduating students and professional actors presents the text clearly, and Glenn Davidson's lighting conjures up the forest magic that enchants both mortals and fairies.
Victor Ertmanis has a commanding presence and voice as Oberon and Theseus, while Graeme Somerville's Demetrius is a joy as one of the quartet of young lovers. As his rival Lysander, Brett Christopher summons dramatic energy only when he's bewitched.
There are more problems with their female counterparts. Jennifer Finestone's feisty Hermia starts well enough but doesn't keep the audience engaged, while Amber Lewis as Helena isn't up to the part vocally.
It's almost impossible to squash the humour of the Pyramus and Thisbe playlet, but Aaron Willis's Bottom could use a good dose of bluster. As dual Pucks, Melody A. Johnson and Julie Tepperman are rightly menacing, even if there's no clear reason in Earle's direction to split the character into two roles.
As a largely student production, the show shouldn't be written off -- this Midsummer Night's Dream is far from a nightmare. But since previous co-pros between George Brown and Equity have proven so satisfying, it's too bad this venture into the classics doesn't tap into more of the Bard's enchantment.