‘Midsummer’ more than a dream

Commentary by Joshua Willis, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter

The Berry College Theatre Company presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Richard Garner, the co-founder and current producing artistic director of Georgia Shakespeare. The show will run April 18-28 at the E.H. Young Theatre with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and matinees each Sunday at 2 p.m.

With its memorable characters, poetic dialogue and whimsical situations, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous and well beloved comedies. The play concerns the trials and misadventures of four Athenian lovers and six amateur actors who are manipulated by a group of mischievous forest fairies.  The two star-crossed couples, Hermia and Lysander, played by juniors Allie Southwood and Spencer Miller, and Demetrius and Helena, freshman Zeke Varajon and alumna Kali McMillian (12), fall in and out of love as they get caught between the bickering Fairy King and Queen, freshman Sean Manion and junior Desiree Holliday. The interaction between the mortals and immortals leads to many blunders and laughs while providing lighthearted insight into the nature of love.

Freshman Heather Pharis, who plays Puck, has enjoyed working with Richard Garner, the show’s director, and developing her character.

“Working with Richard Garner is a delight. He brings so many ideas that you would never think about,” said Pharis. “It has also been wonderful getting into my character’s head. Puck is such an interesting character. He’s mischievous and whimsical and androgynous, but very sexual, and even a bit predatory. It’s a challenging role, but also a rewarding one.”

Everything in the show is a spectacle in itself. The production goes against tradition and uses a mixture of classic and contemporary clothing for the mortals to create an unknown time and space. The makeup artists and costumers outdid themselves with their fairy designs; earthy tones, tribal influences and head-to-toe makeup combine to truly make the actors appear supernatural and not of this earth. The set is stylized and expressionistic with its large, backlight harvest moon and arch of branches that cast a myriad of twisting shadows, greatly adding to the mood. The show isn’t style over substance, though. Each talented actor does justice to Shakespeare’s immortal words and split the sides of audience members with their impressive comedic skills. All in all, “Midsummer” is, to paraphrase its author, the stuff dreams are made of.

For Gabriel Kelly, junior, who played both Egeus and Quince, the most rewarding aspect of the show was seeing it all come together.

“It is wonderful to see the creativity of so many talented people, whether they are set designers or actors, and witness the show go from the first design presentation to the final product,” said Kelly. “It’s been an amazing experience.”

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