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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

WL actors bring creativity and hilarity to classic Shakespeare comedy

Spot-on physical comedy, stunningly creative design, and a love dodecahedron. This is what viewers should expect from this year’s fall play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Jessica Murray, director, Jon Ares, set and light designer, Annie Kaiser, costume designer, and the show’s very talented cast, interpret the classic Shakespeare comedy of errors with imagination and expertise. The result was a hilarious and ridiculously fun play which was almost impossible not to enjoy.

“Midsummer” is about three groups of people: first, there are the lovers, members of the Victorian elite caught in a love-and-marriage drama. Hermia (Emily Axelrod, senior) and Lysander (Brad Stone, junior) are in love, but Hermia is arranged to marry Demetrius (Josh Daniel, senior). If she does not marry Demetrius, Hermia could be sentenced to death. Hermia’s friend, Helena (Caroline Hitesman, senior) is desperately in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius refuses her love. The four of them run into the forest, Hermia and Lysander eloping, and Helena chasing after Demetrius.

Things become even more complicated when the audience is introduced to the faeries. The faerie king, Oberon (Ryan Pierson, senior) is in a child custody battle with the queen, Titania (Ashley Welp, senior). Oberon sends his servant, the mischievous Puck (Thomas Olson, senior) to retrieve a flower that, when applied to Titania’s eyes while she sleeps, will make her fall madly in love with him and coerce her into letting him have the child. However, Puck decides to mess with the lovers using the flower, causing both Lysander and Demetrius to fall in love with Helena and confusing both the women.

The third group in “Midsummer” is the mechanicals. These are working class, amateur actors trying to put on a show for the Duke Theseus (Michael Skozcylas, senior) and his newlywed wife, Hippolyta (Melissa Cozzi, junior). One of these actors, Bottom (William Sturtevant, senior), has his head turned into a donkey’s head by Puck, and Titania, under the spell of the love flower, falls in love with him on sight.

The mess between the lovers culminates in a spectacular stage combat scene between the four lovers, where these elite young men and women are reduced to their corsets and petticoats and nearly claw each other’s eyes out. The scene was so well-choreographed that it was one of about three individual scenes that received applause. The problem is resolved in the end when Oberon scolds Puck into using the love flower to pair all the right people together.

The story ends with the play-within-a-play put on by the mechanicals, then with a monologue from Puck asking that if the audience did not enjoy the play, they should believe it was all just a dream.

West Linn’s Theatre Department did a spectacular job with this classic play. The comedy – physical, situational, across the board – was simply spot-on; it had the audience roaring with laughter. The comedy, along with the whole show, was made accessible to the audience in a fantastic way. Shakespeare has a reputation for being misunderstood by modern audiences due to the language barrier between old and new English. However, the cast and crew did a wonderful job of making the plot, characters, and much of the text understandable. The expertise of the actors and the intimacy of the staging in the black box made the audience feel comfortable in the theater and confident in their understanding of the characters.

The design of the play was very unique, which helped establish the charm and openness of the production. “Midsummer” was framed with a “steampunk” theme, where Victorian clothing styles are mixed with mechanics and technology. This anachronistic style was used in the costuming – for example, Quince’s (Ailish Duff, senior) corset was fastened with wingnuts – and the stage design – for example, one of the most visible elements of the set was a giant gear. It effectively brought a unique “spin” to the Shakespeare play and clearly established a mood of quirky antiquity. It brought a fun atmosphere to a fun play.

I applaud Murray for her expert direction, Ares and Kaiser for their clever designs, and the cast of “Midsummer” for putting on a fantastic show. The production was not only entertaining, but showed a clear understanding of the text that the audience could then take. It is a challenge to make Shakespeare accessible to a wide audience, such as a high school, and our theatre department definitely achieved this.

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About the Contributor
Elise Brown
Elise Brown, Co Editor-in-Chief

Elise Brown, senior, has always felt comfortable standing up and giving her opinion in front of everyone and for the most part, she enjoys it very much.  That is one of the many reasons why she heads the debate team, and also why in June she earned a place in the National Speech and Debate Competition in Indianapolis.

Out of the 250 people entered in the competition, she finished 151st in the country.  Before she earned her rightful place in Nationals, however, she needed to prove herself in Districts and State.

Her 10 minute long speech about socialism and its benefits took first and second in Districts and State, respectively.

“In the National competition the judges didn’t appreciate politics or controversy as much as they did in Districts and State,” Brown said.  This was confirmed from one of the judges she conversed with in order to find out what she could do better.

Brown’s interest in current events started in the eighth grade.  She then did the Amplifier, the high school newspaper to help communicate her ideas about the world with her fellow peers, she also did the debate team to better understand the problems throughout the world and learn how to solve them somewhat.

“Debate involves knowing what is going on in the world,”  Brown said.

This year for upcoming competitions, she has a speech in the works that she feels will top her last one.  This year’s speech is about interdependence inspired by the “you didn’t build that debate,” caused when President Barack Obama told business people that they did not create their businesses on their own.

Brown’s passion for debate has influenced what college she will go to, what she will study in college, and what she wants to do in her life.  Brown’s goal is to graduate high school and then travel to Massachusetts and attend Wellesley College, a very well known and prestigious college, where Brown hopes to study political science.

To achieve this goal she has taken part in a number of rigorous courses and activities such as Speech and Debate, AP Government, AP Economics, Honors Law, AP English and journalism.  Once Brown achieves her education goals, her next goal is to become a political commentator.

“I want to change people’s minds,”  Brown said.  Brown has chosen the path to become a political commentator because she believes political power lies with the media.

Brown has worked very hard throughout high school and continues to work hard through her senior year.  She has taken many challenging courses to achieve her goal of going to Wellesley, and will need to continue down the very rigorous path to success to accomplish her goals.

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WL actors bring creativity and hilarity to classic Shakespeare comedy