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Reviews

Fresh and Entertaining Ken Ludwig's Midsummer/Jersey at Robinson Secondary School.

By Elizabeth Skelton/Teens and Theatre Homeschool Program
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mischief and magic collided with mini-dresses and muscle cars in Midsummer/Jersey, the debut of a completely new rendition of an old classic.

Midsummer/Jersey is an original script by prominent playwright Ken Ludwig. It’s a seamless blend of MTV reality show Jersey Shore and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a tale of four lovers and the manipulations by the fairy king and his minions, with fresh, poetic dialogue, frequent recitations of authentic quotes, and countless pop culture references.

Robinson has set an auspicious and promising beginning for this new piece, with a vibrant and colorful cast, a well crafted set, and an array of costumes that ranged between hip and snazzy to whimsical and charming.
The cast offered intense interaction between the four confused lovers, culminating in a well-staged cat fight between Mia (Gabby Rojtman) and Helene (Emily Rowson) and testosterone fueled shoving matches between Lyle (Ethan Malamud) and Denis (Kolya Rabinowitch.) But, true to the nature of the play, the scenes are underscored by the fairies and their antics, as evidenced by Oberon and Puck looking on with cartons of popcorn while the Fairy King’s gang of surfer-boy sprites egg the "foolish mortals" on with glee.

Puck (Adam Bradley) and Oberon (Dan Barr) had a well-balanced dynamic and good chemistry on stage. Puck’s rambunctious tumbling and physical antics were constant, both in the spotlight and out, with well-timed background acting and reacting to the other characters. Oberon had a contrasting presence of smooth authority, a casual confidence to counteract Puck’s chaotic wildness.

For the majority of the play, the set primarily consisted of a sturdy boardwalk on the beach, with reeds and rushes and strings of colorful lights. It offered multiple exits and entrances for the players to use to their full advantage, especially for the fairy consorts to appear from nowhere, with their colorfully painted wings and netted belts. The sound and lighting cues were well timed with each other, which enhanced the effects accordingly; the glowering red and thunder for Oberon’s moody jealousy, and the purple glow and chimes for the love magic. There was occasionally a lack of balance between voice projection from the actors and the pop music that was periodically heard within the context of the play, but overall the actors were energetic and enthusiastic.

The cast of Robinson provided a thorough understanding and a fresh and entertaining twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy, giving it new life in a delightful debut.

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