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Queens Chronicle

‘Midsummer’ provides laughs but lacks substance

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:30 am

The Queens Players have taken William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the big top, and while the show has its moments, it lacks the luster to make it the greatest show on earth.

The play, directed by Illana Stein, is among Shakespeare’s most popular works and essentially follows two plots: that of the lovers — Helena, Demetrius, Hermia, and Lysander — and that of the players — Bottom, Snout, Flute, Snug, Quince and Starveling — who are all connected by the mischievous Puck and the fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania. The two groups are controlled and manipulated by the fairies in a magical forest that was beautifully decorated using glow-in-the-dark paint.

The actors were rightfully cast, though the players, most notably Blaine Smith, as Bottom, and Megan Greener, as Starveling, stole the show with excellent chemistry and the over-the-top goofiness required for the fictional mediocre theater troupe.

But while the show had plenty of humorous aspects and well-choreographed fights, many of the characters did not have enough depth to them. When it was time for characters to get serious, the monologues often fell flat.

Aurora Florence, as Hermia, is the one exception as she took the seemingly stale damsel who dressed to the nines and transformed her into a ferocious young thing when her fiancÈ Lysander is put under a spell causing him to fall for the tomboyish Helena.

The show, as it stands, is long. Including an intermission it runs over two and a half hours but could have easily been trimmed down. By the time Bottom and the other players performed the intentionally abysmal “Pyramus and Thisbe,” the audience was shifting in their seats.

At times, it is easy to forget that the show is supposed to center around a circus, as almost none of the attractions one would see at a circus appear. Marcus Watson, as Flute, throws in a tumble and a handstand toward the end of the performance but by that time it seems to be too little, too late.

As “Dream” is one of the Bard’s more magical plays, directors all over the world have experimented with the settings and costumes. The mysticism and wonder of the circus in the 1920s is seemingly a great setting to toss Shakespeare’s characters into but Stein wastes the opportunity by barely focusing on the idea.

While there are hiccups in the show, it’s a lighthearted, funny and entertaining performance that those new to Shakespeare will appreciate.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

When: Sept. 26 to Oct. 12, Thurs. to Sat at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.

Where: The Secret Theatre, 4402 23rd St., LIC

Tickets: $18 secrettheatre.com

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