For those expecting to see Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lumina Studio Theatre’s 100th production – A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis might come as a bit of a shocking surprise. Those looking for an enjoyable, unique, entirely DC spin on the classic, however, will thoroughly enjoy themselves.
Set in Metropolis (from the movie of the same name), A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis borrows from a number of familiar plays (namely Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus), throws in some pop culture references (often political, this is DC after all), and leaves the audience with an enjoyable comedy that is a mix of the familiar and the fantastical.
As soon as the curtains open, it’s obvious to see that Set Designer Jim Porter has put a lot of thought and effort into building the Metropolis in the play’s name. An impressively industrial building sits in the center with rolling doors, steam, and large circles, which are used for video displays. Before an actor on stage has spoken a word, the set has supplied the city, the mood, and a backdrop for video-projections, such as of the familiar angels on Dr. Faustus’ shoulders (Sophia Varnai and Ruby Tucker).
Though absurdity seems to be the name of the game for A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis, the entire cast embraces it well, fully committing to their comically eccentric characters—be them Secondus (Kenneth Hill) the quintessential evil captain of industry, the original mad scientist himself, Faustus (Keegan Vernon-Clay), or Hippolyta (Mia Massimino) – the CEO of Amazonia, Inc.
Even smaller roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis get their chances to shine—perhaps most notably Anna Brookes, one of the children cast as “Swabbers and Fairies” through the two acts of the play. Brookes brings a sense of earnestness to her lines that somehow manages to be heart wrenching, while at the same time keeping the sense of absurdity necessary to fit in with such a wild play.
If there is any criticism to be made of A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis, it is not with the staging, set design, or acting; it is the simple fact that quickly the script starts to get bogged down in its own jokes. Midway through the first act, some of the jokes seem to start controlling the action on stage rather than being a product of the story, making the timing drag. No matter how enjoyable the acting or impressive the set design, it simply feels like the plot is taking too long to get anywhere. Luckily, the many great parts outweigh any of these lingering issues.
Lumina Studio Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis makes for an entertaining, if unorthodox, telling of a classic play. Or two.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Metropolis plays through May 13th at Lumina Studio Theatre at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring – 8641 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets, purchase them online, or call (800) 838-3006.