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L to R, Phillip Merriman (Demetrius), Gabriella Gadsby (Hermia), Nick Wade (Lysander). Photo credit: Eleanor Crowder

Theatre Review: Bear & Co.’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—until 08.04.19

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on July 27, 2019

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By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

“What we’ve come to learn is that Shakespeare in the park might be our new favourite thing.” Photo: Laura Gauthier/Apt613

If you read our review of Romeo + Juliet, then you might know that this was the summer we finally got around to making it out to some of Ottawa’s various parks to see some great productions. (We fully regret how long it took us to finally do this!). And what we’ve come to learn is that Shakespeare in the park might be our new favourite thing. What better way to enjoy a summer evening in Ottawa than theatre outdoors in a beautiful park (and with your own snacks!)? When we found out there was another Shakespeare production being put on in the city’s parks, we knew we just had to go!

What better way to enjoy a summer evening in Ottawa than theatre outdoors in a beautiful park (and with your own snacks!)?

Bear & Co’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream features a lively cast, very simple staging and costumes, and yet easily captured the audiences’ attention and imagination. They bring one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies to life and had the audience laughing and clapping throughout the evening.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells the tale of four young Athenian lovers, and a merry band of six local actors, who are all manipulated by fairies in the forest where most of the story takes place—but magic isn’t always foolproof.

The small-yet-mighty cast made great use of the park space and even included audience members in one scene (if you’re keen, show up a tad early to get your instructions!). There are a few small, but well-done, fight scenes which are clearly informed by actor and fight director Chris McLeod’s experience.

They bring one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies to life and had the audience laughing and clapping throughout the evening.

Actors Nick Wade and Phillip Merriman, when they played Lysander and Demetrius, had the audience in stitches in some scenes, but the entire cast shone and played their multiple roles with ease.

Just as we said with Romeo + Juliet, seeing Shakespeare performed live is the way to go. Bring your teens who are maybe not loving having to read it in high school so that they can see it and understand it as it’s meant to be – acted with emotion, body language, winks and nods to the audience and so much visual acting that helps explain the story, the infamous double-entendres, and the quirks of the language. Even if Shakespeare isn’t entirely your thing, seeing it live helps you understand more of the story and text than you might if you were just reading it.

Even if Shakespeare isn’t entirely your thing, seeing it live helps you understand more of the story and text than you might if you were just reading it.

Those who are more keen on Shakespeare will enjoy the subtext and meanings to be drawn by this production, as Director Rachel Eugster states in her note, “…let us be reminded to cherish the things Shakespeare cherished: each other, love, laughter, and this beautiful world.”


A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs until August 4 in parks around the city and surroundings. Visit Bear and Co.’s website for the schedule and location information. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $20.


 

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