Thursday, April 8, 2010
"Both right and sinister"
The idea of casting Zephyer Rep's "Midsummer Night's Dream" with an all-female cast seems an appropriate way to update a play once acted entirely by men. Such a transformation has the promise of undermining the play's heterosexual underpinnings, which are pretty solid despite its brief flirtation with bestiality. Kymm Zuckert (Bottom) and Caroline Kessler (Lysander) amp up this production's queer innuendos by sporting black leather and chains, but despite the potential offered in the play's dialog--"I am a man as other men are"--the play reinforced gender roles rather than calling them much into question. Lysander repeatedly grabbed and pointed to "his" crotch, and Helena and Hermia engaged in such a screeching "girl fight" that it was virtually impossible to understand a word of what was said. This production made clear that it is not enough to have a clever concept for re-envisioning Shakespeare--the words too must be interpreted so that the conceit is more than merely superficial. Why set the play in the 80s for instance?