Review: ‘An Irish Twist on a Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Quotidian Theatre Company

Ian Blackwell Rogers at Puck and Madie Kilner as Faery. Photo by Steve LaRocque.

Quotidian Theatre Company’s An Irish Twist on a Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fantastical adventure that transports Shakespeare’s classic to 1820s Ireland. This production was directed and adapted by Stephanie Mumford and Leah Mazade and features musical accompaniment and Irish dance, wonderfully choreographed by Kate Bole.

The story of magic and mischief will be familiar to those who have encountered Shakespeare’s play. The unique twist that is added to this Midsummer is explained in the program for those who are unfamiliar- make no mistake: this adaptation adds a great deal of complexity to the original material, with a very charming outcome.

We open on Aveline (Angela Kay Pirko) and Margaret (Laura Rocklyn), cousins with a sisterly bond. They have run afoul of each other in their personal relationships. Aveline convinces us that Margaret has stolen the affections of her beloved Lord Gregory (Grant Cloyd), while Margaret suffers from having to hide her relationship with Liam O’Connor (Seth Rosenke), her studious Irish tutor. Meanwhile, the Lady Montbrook (Laura Russell) seeks to have Margaret marry Lord Gregory and use his fortune to save his failing estate.

Beyond these plot points, Finvarra, King of the Faeries (Addison Switzer) and Oonagh, Queen of the Faeries (a second role picked up by Laura Russell) are engaged in a marital tug-of-war over a changeling child. Finvarra enlists the help of plucky and well-acted Puck (Ian Blackwell Rodgers) to cast a spell over Oonagh and the four lovers from Tuam.

Laura Rocklyn is a fantastic Margaret and gets to utilize her considerable vocal and movement talents in contra dances, choreographed by Vanessa Bisbee. Pirko also shines as Aveline. Both women make good companions for the men they have their heart set on and play especially well against each other in a climatic scene of rivalry.

David Dubov as Bottom. Photo by Steve LaRocque.

The rude mechanicals in this adaptation appear as a Reverend and three servants at the Montbrook estate. The stand out performance among this group is delivered by David Dubov, who plays Bottom. Peter Quince (John Decker), Mrs. Starvling (Leah Mazade), and Phin (John Allnut) join in for a charming and hilarious play-within-a-play in the latter acts. Their comedic timing couldn’t be more spot-on.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this production is the music, primarily provided by Samantha Suplee on fiddle and Peter Brice on accordion. Leah Mazade also joins in on cello.

The set design by Stephanie Mumford and Patrick McGovern is appropriate. Despite the limited resources of this smaller stage, movement of props and set pieces make this production seem larger-than-life.

Ian Blackwell Rogers at Puck and Laura Russell as Faery Queen Oonagh. Photo by Steve LaRocque.

Sound Designer Matthew Datcher finds a way to create an atmosphere that is both mystical and refined, when necessary. I found the fairy voices to be especially appropriate: somewhat creepy, yet not so creepy that it distracts from the fun of this production.

This production is fun. An Irish Twist on a Midsummer Night’s Dream shows the full depth of skill and talent which is on display at Quotidian Theatre Company. If you love song and dance, go and see this superb and unique adaptation of a Shakespeare classic.

Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, with on intermission.

An Irish Twist on a Midsummer Night’s Dream plays through August 12, 2018 at Quotidian Theatre Company performing at Randolph Road Theater- 4010 Randolph Road, in Silver Spring, MD. Tickets can be purchased online.


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