NEW YORK— A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare opened on June 9 at Theater 80 St. Marks in the East Village to a packed house. Those lucky enough to attend the premiere were delighted with the latest incarnation of the much revived, and beloved, romantic comedy with its interconnected plots set in a woodland and in fairyland simultaneously. In this version, the woodland is updated to the concrete jungle of New York’s Lower East Side. The story follows events surrounding the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and the complications of love for four Athenians, the shenanigans of the rude mechanicals, and the fairies toying with everyone’s fate. The show features original music and dance along with an incredibly talented cast of actors, singers, and comedians creating a theatrical experience not to be missed.
The chemistry between the actors is impressive and undeniable, especially between the couples who can’t seem to get their tangled love lives untangled without supernatural intervention. The love quadrilateral of Demetrius and Helena, Lysander and Hermia, skillfully portrayed by Ted Serro, Ruthellen Cheney, John Purdy, and Natalie Hoy, manipulated by the unseen fairies is delightful. Peter Quince (Armand Lane) and his band of players, including Nick Bottom played in a perfect comedic frenzy by Eric Ryan Swanson, planning to perform for the Duke and his bride, become entangled in Oberon’s plot against Titania, played with comic precision by Marisa Brau. Erin Marsz is a rock and roll Puck carrying out schemes not exactly as ordered by Oberon, played with a fun, punk sensibility by Sam Parrott. Music director/composer Thomas Lee has composed original songs for the play. The entire production radiates with the joy.
John Purdy as Lysander and Natalie Hoy as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced by Demetri Kofinas. Photo by Demetri Kofinas
Following the opening night performance, a Q&A session was held with Executive Producer of Offline Productions Demetri Kofinas, and director Alexis Confer, moderated by Stephanie Simon of NY1. Noting that this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Confer remarked on her love for the Bard. Kofinas remarked on theater, the ancient form of entertainment, as an analog experience, and though today we are more connected through social media, we are often alone, the communal experience of theater is unique, creating shared moments, and reinforcing the connection between theater and community. Confer mentioned that this is the third production of Shakespeare by the company and most of the performers and the team have worked on all three of the shows, beginning with Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night both produced in 2015. Kofinas, who previously worked in television, also commented on the three Shakespeare productions, learning how to put on a show, and how he now has to think about the audience and ventilation in the theater, for example. When asked what was next for Offline Productions, Kofinas said he would like to move beyond Shakespeare, to produce an original play. He told The National Herald that he would like to eventually produce some updated Greek classics, possibly a comedy by Aristophanes.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theater 80 St Marks runs through June 26, Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday June 26th at 7pm.