We Love Arts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Alex Mills as Puck in Synetic Theater's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Photo credit Raymond Gniewek, courtesy of Synetic.

Blending both breathtaking physical control and hypnotic emotional projection, Synetic Theater is the bright star of the Washington arts scene. Seriously, if anyone ever yaps on and on to you about DC having nothing to offer in the way of brilliant theater, get them to the current production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and dare them to say so afterwards. This is both a beautiful and hysterical night out. For a company known for dark tragedy and breaking hearts, they also prove themselves more than capable of splitting your sides.

Right from the start Synetic puts their signature wordless stamp on a play most of us know well. The fairies are powerful, pagan and exotic. In a perfect twist on the plot, Puck becomes the orphan that Titania and Oberon fight over, instead of it being some nameless child, and that battle is a glorious dangerous display of both the physical and the magical. The thwarted young lovers are discovered drinking away their sorrows with a bottle of Jack. They go from sadly tipsy to athletically audacious on a dime – there are some frighteningly daredevil toss-and-catch fights. The goofy “rude mechanicals” are a hodge-podge of leather and denim. There’s even a delightful nod to the Marx Brothers with a pianist in a Chico hat (and was that a riff from “A Night at the Opera” maybe? brilliant job as always by composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze). Not to mention a hilarious parody of Synetic’s past Shakespeare productions. You have to love a company that can make fun of itself.

Anastasia R. Simes outdoes herself again with the production design. Titania becomes a sort of Indian Xena Warrior Princess, and the forest is austerely pagan. My only quibble – the gold Isis wings for the fairies. I prefer my fairies a bit more naughty, less pretty, but the wings did accent their movement. Andrew Griffin’s lighting is nothing short of magical and mysterious, without being obvious. And of course, the seamless interaction between the direction of Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili is an inspiration.

It always seems unfair to highlight specific actors in a Synetic production, because they are the essence of a true ensemble, but after seeing Irina Tsikurishvili’s Titania I cannot wait to see her Cleopatra. Irakli Kavsadze makes Bottom’s transformation a thing of horror that suddenly becomes hysterically funny. And Alex Mills’ Puck is a wicked little tormentor, pulling the audience into his tricks with a complicit grin.

Tickets are already starting to go, so get yours asap. You will not regret it. Oh wait, what did I mean by “her Cleopatra”?? Yes, the next wordless Shakespeare Synetic will tackle is “Antony and Cleopatra,” to be performed at Shakespeare Theater’s Lansburgh in January 2010. Before that, they will reprise their hot-and-heavy “Dracula” this fall at the Rossyln Spectrum.

I’m already breathless.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Now to June 14
Family Theater
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20566
Tickets & Information: 800.444.1324

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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