Theatricum Botanicum’s signature piece, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is delightful and “a dream come true.” Built into Topanga Canyon, the theater, with its tree-shaded hillside entrances is perfect for William Shakespeare’s tale about the mischief that can happen when the “real world” and the faerie world cross paths.
Co-directors Willow Geer and Melora Marshall have assembled a stellar cast who woke the drowsy matinee crowd on Sunday, July 7 with their energy, enthusiasm and mastery of the Bard’s poetic language. Perfect for anyone who has never seen a live performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ this production is likely to please purists, as well.
Among the many entertaining performances a few stand out. Commanding Michael McFall was born to play Faerie King Oberon and Marshall as his Queen Titania is an equally strong match for him. Bill Hickman performed the role of Puck with quicksilver grace and charm. Geer as star-crossed lover, Helena, makes the most of her role and is especially funny when beleaguered by suitors Demetrius and Lysander. Understudy for Flute at this performance, John Maidman, was absolutely delicious as Thisbe in the Rustic’s play within a play. In fact, all the Rustics were terrific!
Spoiler alert! Worth the price of admission alone is Katherine Griffith’s hilarious interpretation of Bottom/Pyramus. She got every bit of funny out of the part(s) and hit every note dead on.
A shout out to Costumer Katherine Crawford for the wonderful faerie attire.
This is the 40th Anniversary of Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum and they are in the midst of a campaign to raise $400,000. At the end of the first act a small ensemble of the cast sang an a capella plea for donations that was heavenly in its harmonies and performance, no doubt inspiring many contributions. Theatricum Botanicum is one of the Southland’s greatest and unique theatrical venues and deserves all the help they can muster to keep delivering top-notch shows for another 40 years.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performs in repertory with “The Taming of the Shrew,” “The Royal Family” and “Merlin: Harbinger of Peace” through September 28, 2013. For tickets, subscriptions, group discounts and a full schedule of theater, music and family entertainment, call 310-455-3723 or go to www.theatricum.com.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura (101) Freeway. The amphitheaters are terraced into the hillside, so audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Picnickers are welcome on the grounds before or after the performances.
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