“Kiss me through the hole in this nasty wall,” calls Pyramus, played by Joel Meyers, CC ’21, his head poking out from under the legs of the Wall to his lover Thisbe. The Wall was played by Jane Walsh, CC ’23.
Thisbe, played by Jackson Wylder, CC ’21, proceeds to stretch his neck under Walsh’s crotch. The lovers kiss under this not-so-floral arch.
“But I’m only kissing the wall’s hole, not your lips at all,” Thisby cries out.
The audience lets out a groan before breaking out into heavy chortles.
King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe performed Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from Thursday to Saturday in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre at Barnard. As dramaturg Lauren Alcindor, CC ’21, stated in the program, the adapted script omitted much of the “exoticism and racist language and imagery” present in the work. Directed by Catherine Ferrante, BC ’21, and produced by Juliet Emerson-Colvin, BC ’21, this two-hour charismatic production flew by like a dream.
Egging on this dream-like performance were the psychedelic and bioluminescent set transformations, designed by Kristian Woerner, CC ’21, which turned Athens into a mysterious forest, and the neon-rave costumes of the fairy world, designed by Lexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia, CC ’22, and Zena-Marie Gonzalez, SEAS ’22.
When the characters migrated to the forest, the transformation saw UV lighting illuminate the stage, revealing nests of cobweb-filled fairy lights within bushes that blossomed like lilies, and multicolored glow-in-the-dark makeup, designed by Trang Phan, BC ’23, come to life on the cast’s faces. These dynamic features helped prevent the set from becoming tired or bland, shining light upon the kaleidoscopic silk hood of Puck, played by Maggie Vlietstra, BC ’20, or the ChromaFlair cape of King Oberon, played by Madeleine Watkins, BC ’23.
The ensemble for the production was numerous, to say the least—note the head-spinning number of class and year appendices already mentioned. 17 actors contributed to the performance, often playing more than one role. Two standout performances came from Meyers, who played troupe leader Nick Bottom in addition to Pyramus, and Vlietstra as Puck.
Meyers was the epitome of charisma from the second he arrived onstage, mocking sensationalized acting with each clenched jawline. Strutting on with his drama troupe in tow, Meyers’ first appearance saw him ready to impress any Pilates instructor with his standing inner-thigh side-stretches, his knees almost touching the floor.
Meyers’ delivery throughout was mockingly melodramatic, straight out of the boisterous acting styles of early 18th-century English theater. The actor lept from platform to platform, harnessing an otherworldly energy and confidence and occasionally striking ridiculous, statuesque poses.
The mischievous Puck is a coveted role, and Vlietstra presented the cheeky, devilish minx with ease. The actor crept around like Gollum and flew like an impudent Tinker Bell, shiny hooded cape fluttering behind.
In addition to her spectrum of gaits, Vlietstra’s playful interactions with the set and her fellow characters constructed Puck into a multidimensional cretin. Whether amusing herself with the onstage swing—reminiscent of Fragonard’s flirtatious painting “The Swing”—or jumping on the back of an unsuspecting Snug, played by Zach Kahn, CC ’20, Vlietstra’s tomfoolery gave her presentation of Puck both an innocent and wily face.
Though the original script contains bigoted societal views, as explained in Alcindor’s note, the actors took these outdated patriarchal moments and turned them into rib-poking witticisms.
When Theseus, played by Leo Pappajohn, CC ’23, proclaimed that Hermia, played by Maya Weed, CC ’22, should do as her father commands since she is her father’s property, Weed pointed jeeringly at her whining father.
In contrast to Weed’s reactive expressions and gestures, Helena, played by Sarah Hilligoss, BC ’21, took an empowering approach to combat these moments, stomping across the stage in white high heels and lashing out with fortissimo at Lysander, played by David Ehmcke, CC ’20, and Demetrius, played by Shayan Hooshmand, CC ’23, as they fawned over her in their bewitched state.
Hilligoss’s stomping heels and Vlietstra’s cape were symbolic of the entire production—loud and psychedelic. It was exactly these qualities, the noisiness and business of the actors, the mesmerizing set transformations, and the entrancing ambiance, that made the performance a refreshing vacation from reality.