‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Synetic Theater

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The music is pulsing; the performers are insanely flexible, and everything from set to costumes to lights is drenched in the fantastical for Synetic’s latest Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play and the company are a perfect match – the psychedelic comedy with three sets of lovers and a love potion finds perfect expression in the unique, wordless art that is Synetic.

Alex Mills as Puck. Photo by Johnny Shryock.
Alex Mills as Puck. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

In a clever bit of simplification, the boy the king and queen of the fairies fights over is actually Puck (Alex Mills) – which means he causes a great deal more havoc than in the original and Mills, painted head to toe in blue, has a great deal of impressive acrobatic work to do splitting up the fairy royals and causing havoc with the other lovers as well. Titania and Oberon (Irina Tsikurishvili and Philip Fletcher) are at their best when they’re playing with the impish boy. As are the fairies and Randy Snight), who frankly never needed the few lines they had and are much more impressive wheeling around the stage in swirling costumes.

The “normal” people of the play – the duke and duchess and the four lovers turn civilized disagreements into all out physical war with each other. Director Paata Tsikurishvili creates a wonderful, hilarious dance that wordlessly and effortlessly tells the whole sordid history between them, aided by Irina’s choreography. The real fun stars after the love potion takes effect. Emily Whitworth and Irina Kavsadze (Helena and Hermia) are both graduates of Synetic’s Teen Program and both are hilarious as these flower-crossed lovers. Their amours, Scott Brown and Peter Pereyra (Lysander and Demetrius) make excellent foils for each other and for the girls.  Young love is best expressed in wordless sighs and stares anyway and these four revel in it.

The young company of artists staging Pyramus and Thisbe first cycle through a number of Shakespeare’s other plays before settling on that title, in another clever bit of interpretation. Their staging of a number of his tragedies is particularly funny. Irakli Kavsadze (Bottom) and the rest of the band take full advantage of the pantomime. Kavsadze seems to embody a donkey with minimal help from any costume. The rest of the company, Dallas Tolentino, Tori Bertocci, Scott Turner, Konstantine Lortkipanidze, and Vato Tsikurishvili adore him, and they manage to shoe horn in yet another love story as the finally mount Pyramus and Thisbe, which is everything you could hope it would be with such physically gifted actors.

Irina Tsikurishvili and Philip Fletcher. Photo by Johnny Shryock.
Irina Tsikurishvili (Titania) and and Philip Fletcher (Oberon). Photo by Johnny Shryock.

It would be a considerably different show without the otherworldly, original music by Konstantin Lortkipanidze. His music blends seamlessly with the action onstage and contributes to the dreamlike quality, as does the set and costumes by Anastasia Rurikov Simes. This is a costume designer’s dream show – from the elegant gowns and tuxes of the lovers to the otherworldly drama of the fairies. The set was only the moon and a series of dangling scarves and ropes that the fairies flew from. The lights by Andrew Griffin did most of the heavy lifting.

Synetic fans will revel in another stellar production. Newbies to both Shakespeare and the company may just get a taste of Shakespeare’s original midsummer dream. I have seen this play a dozen times and loved the winking nods to the subtleties of the script. A friend had never seen the play before and was flabbergasted that Shakespeare could write anything like it.

Synetic Theater’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an impressive, literally jaw-dropping show as you witness some major feats of acrobatics, body comedy, and improvements to the crazy, convoluted plot – all done without a single word.

Running Time: Approximately two hours, with no intermission.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays through August 9, 2015 at Synetic Theater – 1800 South Bell Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door, call the Box Office at (866) 811-4111, or buy them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif