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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Chicago MND
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0396  Thursday, 24 February 2000.


[1]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 19:48:46 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND

[2]     From:   Eric W Beato <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 21:55:55 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND

[3]     From:   Michael Meyers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 21:41:54 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 19:48:46 -0600
Subject: 11.0393 Chicago MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND

Jack Kamen wrote:

>I have seen more than a hundred Shakespeare productions but have not
>enjoyed one more than the MND presented at the Shakespeare Theater on
>Chicago's Navy Pier.
>
>Its costuming, lighting, originality of presentation and acting skills,
>made this, at least for me, an unforgettable midwinter night's treat.
>
>The run ends April 1st.
>
>I would like to hear others' comments.

I saw the production, and I was also impressed.  Apparently it's based
closely on a production which was very successful in Minneapolis, with
the director (Joe Dowling), Puck (Danyon Davis), and Bottom (Richard
Iglewski) all coming from there to Chicago for this production.  I saw
it several weeks ago, but unfortunately had to leave at intermission
because my date became ill.  However, we're going back to see it again
on April 1, the last show of the run.

I e-mailed some of my impressions to a friend the day after seeing it,
and I'm posting those comments below.  They're very informal, but should
give you some idea of what it's like.  I think the weekend shows are
pretty much sold out for the rest of the run, but you can always check,
and there may still be weekday seats.  The phone number for the box
office is (312) 595-5600.

Dave Kathman

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*****************************

Overall, I really liked it.  They did the standard doubling of
Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania, and Puck also doubled as
Philostrate, which I guess is less common.  In fact, they explicitly
emphasized the doubling at the beginning.  Puck came out, dressed in a
thong, leaping around, doing somersaults, giggling, and eventually sat
in the audience.  Two women came out, carrying a pair of black pants and
a shirt and jacket, and motioned to Puck.  He whimpered and came down on
stage, where they dressed him as he made faces and noises.  When he was
dressed as Philostrate, he strode over to the side of the stage, music
started, a set was rolled out, and Theseus and his court came out to
start the first scene.

The non-fairy scenes were in modern dress-Theseus, Egeus, and
Philostrate in tuxedoes, Lysander and Demetrius in military uniforms.
When the lovers went out into the forest, the were first wearing casual
clothes, but then the fairies made their clothes disappear (in a neat
bit of business- it looked like they were pull-away clothes attached to
wires), and they were in their underwear for the rest of the forest
scenes.  As far as acting goes, the lovers (Hermia, Helena, Demetrius,
Lysander) were fine, but didn't leave that much of an impression on me.
(It didn't help that Demetrius and Lysander looked quite a bit alike.)

The rude mechanicals were in working-class garb.  Snout was in a
mechanic's overalls; Snug (a big guy) was in a baseball cap.  Robin
Starveling was played by a woman, which is not contradicted anywhere in
the text (including the androgynous name), and which added a little
laugh when Snout says, "Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?", and
Starveling says, "I fear it, I promise you." Their Bottom, a guy named
Richard Iglewski, was very good.  He was dressed a little better than
the other mechanicals, with his jacket draped over his shoulders, and
spoke with a dandified pseudo-British accent.  The ass's head they made
for him was very well done; it covered his head competely, but the mouth
moved, and you could hear his voice clearly.

The music was very well done in this production.  They had background
music at the beginning and at various scene changes which was enjoyable
and effective.  When Titania is falling asleep in the woods in 2.2, the
fairies' "Lullaby" song was done as a sort of Motown/doo-wop number;
very entertaining and catchy.  When the mechanicals entered for their
practice scene in the forest, they came in from the back of the theater,
through the audience, singing "High Hopes", which got laughs.
Unfortunately I didn't get to see the music in the last two acts, but
I'm sure it was good, and I'll get to see it in a couple of months.

Well, I guess this wasn't so much a review as a bunch of impressions.
But it should give you some idea of what it was like.  The theater
itself is pretty cool, with a thrust stage surrounded on three sides by
the audience.  There's a balcony going all around on three sides, but
with only one row of seats.  We were in the balcony on the very end,
near the rear left corner of the stage, but they were still pretty good
seats.  The whole thing is less than 100 feet wide, because of the
restraints of where they built it.  It's really a cool space, and I'm
looking forward to seeing more things there.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric W Beato <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 21:55:55 -0500
Subject: Chicago MND
Comment:        SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, newly installed on Navy Pier, is a leader
in Chicago theatre,and the MND currently on stage is a real treat for
the Shakespeare buff as well as for the casual viewer.

I don't think I ever laughed so hard in any theater anywhere as I did
for this performance.  The music, the lighting, the directing, the
casting- every aspect of the production is first class.  Even the
costuming of Bottom was superb-without a doubt, the finest head of an
ass in Dream history.

See it if you possibly can.

Rick Beato
Lisle IL Senior High School

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Meyers <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 21:41:54 -0600
Subject: 11.0393 Chicago MND
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0393 Chicago MND

>I have seen more than a hundred Shakespeare productions but have not
>enjoyed one more than the MND presented at the Shakespeare Theater on
>Chicago's Navy Pier.

Jack, I agree 100%.  It was great.  It was soooo funny.   However, I
wonder if it might be too madcap for this academic group.

Michael
 

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