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Monday, June 15, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Two Pence Theatre Company: A Review

A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Two Pence Theatre Company: A Review

Today's opening performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Two Pence Theatre Companyat the Filament Theatre was even BETTER than the preview (I went to both performances).

The weather was awful and the Blackhawks were in the playoffs...perhaps winning the Stanley Cup this very evening (as you know by now they won!!! Go Hawks!). So I thought the audience would be small...I was so wrong! An almost full house...braving the weather and ... abandoning the Hawks (for at least 1 hr and 45 mins)...was rewarded with an incredible performance.

Filament Theatre
This play takes place in Athens....and there could be no greater Mediterranean beauty than Helena. Helena was played by Lucy Carapetyan (she also played several other parts) but as a Greek Beauty she excelled. Her physical attributes embodied the Greek ideal. She has a long slender neck, short, somewhat ruffled brownish-redish hair and an aristocratic manner that lent to the authenticity of her performance. She was whimsical and serious. She was hellfire when she believed herself to be a victim of a cruel joke, but also an aggressive women in love after her man. She was vulnerable, brave, delicate but determined. Lucy was Helena.

Theseus/Oberon/Nick Bottom were all played by Tom Wells. Tom’s actor voice has a wide range. But his face, his demeanor, his posture…even more than the words he speaks tells the story. Tom is so versatile that he made you believe he was a Fairy King, a ruler of a kingdom and a somewhat bumbling jackass!

Alexis Randolph was Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons who was betrothed to Theseus. She also played the Fairy Queen and Moonshine. She went from regal to reluctant Moon light seamlessly.

Mary Tilden played Hermia and other roles including Tom Snout aka The Wall. Although she excelled as “The Wall”, she was outstanding as the determined Hermia. Mary, as Hermia, when she thought she was betrayed, had anger that no man nor woman, could face. Her eyes, lips, voice, manner…broadcast the heat of this anger…and as a member of the audience…I felt it necessary to move a bit back lest I be singed!

Judy Lea Steele often stole the show. She was Puc. She was the embodiment of all things mischievous. She moved with deliberate abandonment. Her voice was melodious and at times, threatening. She was respectful and disrespectful. She followed orders….up to a point.

Josh Mattingly (Lysander) and Martel Manning (Demetrius) displayed their love and devotion and sometimes confusion splendidly.  Josh as Thisbe the lovely blond maid and Martel as the reluctant, almost but not really scary Lion made you laugh…and laugh…and…yeah, laugh. As Lysander and Demetrius you could feel the battle of testosterone building as each sought the love of Hermia. Finally, of course, the love Lysander had for Hermia and the love which was imposed upon Demetrius by the Fairy King for Helena…won the day. All was well. Love had won. Humor was served. Puc was, well, Puc.

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
…So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends..."
And the audience applauded. Loudly.

See this play. Bring the Two Pence Theatre Company into your hearts and minds.

A word about the venue. The Filament Theatre is an incredible venue. It is versatile, adaptable and intimate. This is a theater that was meant for those of us who want to be up close. We want to see the face of the actor. We want to see the passion…the sweat…the pain….the love….. We want this precious experience. The Filament Theatre does not disappoint.


In the interest of full disclosure you should know that I serve on the Board of Directors of the Filament Theater, I love Shakespeare and I believe that Six Corners in Portage Park will soon become Chicago’s Mecca for culture in all its forms (performance arts, visual arts and culinary arts). This review may be just a bit biased! Go to the Filament Theatre and see the Two Pence Theatre Company perform Midsummer Night’s Dream and decide for yourself. It’s the only way to determine the veracity of my review. DM

"...All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages...."

William Shakespeare