Thursday, February 24, 2011

saturday night fever

There's been a request for me to share my experiences with A Midsummer Night's Disco Dream last Saturday. Let me just say this: For what it was, it was fantastic.

And what was it? It was a highly-abridged (90minute) version of Shakespeare, with at least 10 choreographed and performed disco-era songs, done by Waterville, ME community theater.

To clarify... the experience was fantastic, if not the production itself. 

Shakespeare: The first few minutes of any Shakespeare production are always panic-filled. I can't understand what the hell they are saying and I worry that I will be lost in a haze of iambic pentameter. However, my mind usually catches up with my ears sometime within the first scene. Verse aside, I'd say the playwrights did a fairly good job of condensing the comedy, with just one exception: the "rude mechanicals'" performance (i.e., the play within the play). It was so superfluous to the nuts-and-bolts plot that it just seemed like a glorified excuse to sing YMCA. Twice. (Which is 2times too many.)

Disco music: In my mind, disco music is disco music. Mostly, it was just interesting to see Shakespeare full of song-and-dance, but it was all feel-good, classic disco (I probably only know of 10 "true" disco songs... they were all there). And that fit, given this was a comedy and all.

Community theater: I feel pretty confident in making the claim that in any community theater there is going to be some pretty extreme variability as to quality of... well, everything. There were some actors that were great, and some that you just wanted to shake and say, "Stop just standing there while reciting your lines and DO something!" The variability in singing was also drastic. Most were average, some impressive, and one that had no right singing a solo, or holding a lead part for that matter (see shaking reference above). 

What I most appreciated about the show was that it was happening here. In Maine. In Waterville. Whether intentionally written this way, or through director/actor interpretation, there were some heavy homosexual overtones (sure, there were heterosexual ones too, but what's unique about that?). I found that to be so exciting - even promising! - considering that we're in a relatively small, conservative, homogeneous city. The characters of Hippolyta and Titania were played by a man in drag. [Side note: I can't remember if they're usually played by one actor. Same for Theseus and Oberon.] I just found it refreshing that members of the community, as a whole, were willing and accepting of this "alternative." Of course, so much more could be done - I would be especially impressed if someone felt comfortable enough to walk down the street in drag. But baby steps, I suppose.

So, was it worth my $18? Not even close. Is it something I'd be interested in seeing again, here or elsewhere? Not really. But did it provide for a fun night? Yes.

Plus, Puck rolled around on skates and there were copious amounts of glitter.


  1. Yes, Titania and Hippolyta are usually played by the same person as are Oberon and Theseus. This dates back to Shakespeare's day when Richard Burbage probably played the latter two; have no clue who played the ladies. It's an economical way to keep the large cast to more manageable proportions.

  2. Not even worth your $18. ouch. It sounded like you had a great experience!