REVIEW: A Macsummer Night’s Dream @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

Caithream Celtic Dance Fusion presents Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, retold entirely in dance with a Scottish twist.

Jenn MacQuarrie tells you why you should see it:

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I don’t know much about dance so I was fairly hesitant in going into a MacSummer’s Night Dream – but boy am I glad that I saw it. A MacSummer’s Night Dream is the tale of A Midsummer’s Night Dream told through an all-female dance team. Narrated by Puck, the audience is taken quickly through a whirlwind of different dance genres be it, ballet, hip hop, modern, tap, and many more – all with a Scottish flair to them.  We follow the feud between Oberon and Titania, we see the ‘almost disasters’ that befall the 4 young lovers, and of course we get to revisit the rude mechanicals who are putting on Pyramus and Thisby for the Duke’s nuptial day – which of course leads into one of them being turned into a donkey… you know, the whole: “my mistress with a monster is in love?”

 My only concern, which may not even be a real concern at all, is that with so much happening and so much double casting this play may be hard to follow if you don’t have a basic understand of a Midsummer’s Night Dream. This play is 75 minutes long and does have an unusual intermission – that, if it didn’t would put the play close to finishing within an hour… however, these talented girls aren’t machines and as they are performing elaborate dances the entire time I’m sure they need the break. The best part of this show is the “Pyramus and Thisby” scenes which, instead of a play have been changed into a prolonged, extremely challenging yet entertaining tap dance group number. Once again – I know nothing about dance – but I do know that this play is worth seeing again and again. 4!

Allan’s Followup:

I see a lot of dance. I’m a competition and recital videographer so I see upwards of 2,000+ dance routines Apr-Jun every year - 80% of those are competitive. So first, it was a very different experience watching this show up close and seated, as opposed to out at the back on my camera’s display. Second, I loved this show. Fully. Every number was full of life and the dancers were fun to watch because you knew they were having fun up there. Several dancers even double-dance in multiple roles. It’s among some of the best dance I’ve seen this year - and that’s a lot of dance.

Now, opposite to Matthew, about the only thing I knew about A Midsummer Night’s Dream were some of the plot elements I learned at a Company of Fool’s A Midwinter’s Dream Tale last year at GCTC. The story, for the most part, was completely unknown to me. But the story was completely clear and delineated with the dance numbers adeptly conveying the intentions and with the only speaking role, that of Puck, filling in the blanks. This show is light, airy, fun, and a high four.

Followup: I was going to add a whole new followup but thought to just add this sentence instead. I saw the show twice, I’m allowed a second followup. This time, I really wanted to commend the dancers on their expressiveness in selling the characters. It really was a lot of fun watching them on stage.

- by Allan Mackey

Kurt’s Followup:

A Macsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s classic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, given a Scottish setting and told via dance. Puck serves as the narrator and introduces each number with short selections of lines from the play, minutely edited — but the lion’s share of the story is presented through dance.

Usually, the biggest selling point of Shakespeare is the language, the poetry of the writing. But the Caithream Celtic Dancers bring their own kind of poetry. The troupe is able to tell the entire story mostly through facial expressions and choreography. And the dancing is superb and expertly done. You’ll be hypnotized by it. From the nimble fairies as they put the queen to sleep, to the Mechanicals who struggle to rehearse a dance routine, with one of them trying to upstage the rest, the story comes alive. If you are a fan of the story, you will be able to easily follow what’s going on. The choreography perfectly matches the story and even though the characters don’t speak, they have voices all their own. For example, the Mechanicals all have various expressions and manners of behaving. Furthermore, there is plenty of humor, mostly slap stick that you will enjoy. Another really impressive aspect is the costume changes. Various dancers pull double and sometimes triple rolls, often in completely different costumes. But the changes are choreographed so brilliantly that no one misses a change and there is no point in the show where you feel you are waiting for someone.

There is a saying in the theatre world that if you can take out the best lines of your play and it still works, then you have a really strong show on your hands. A Macsummer Night’s Dream takes out virtually all the lines from the play and it’s still a brilliant show and so earns a four.

- by Kurt Shantz

Matthew Champ

About Matthew Champ

Matthew Champ is the lead movie reviewer for Production Ottawa's Should You See It team, making sure that you know whether or not these movies or plays are worth spending your time or money on.

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