Ha! Minor role indeed. It’s only Snug one of the Rude Mechanicals in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But special fan’s props are due to the gentle, shy Snug in the current Folger Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Megan Graves as Snug. Photo by Teresa Wood.
As Snug, local actor Megan Graves gives a virtuoso “sotto voce” of a lion’s roar. She dazzles. Under the direction of Aaron Posner, Graves manifests an inspired comic lunacy in what may be one of those break-through roles any actor would dream of having on a major stage. With a spirited demeanor, animated face and oh, such sweet surrender into wide-eyed amusing line delivery, Graves’ loud whisper is just a monumentally adorable hoot of stage craft.
Just in case, you may ask, “who is Snug?” The character is asked to play the part of a lion in the faux play-within-the-play, Pyramus and Thisbe that the Rude Mechanicals troupe want to perform before the assembled court nobles. When first assigned the part of the lion, Graves as Snug worries, “I am slow of study,” that she will not remember her lines; even though most are to be a lion’s roar.
Then Snug worries that the lion’s loud roar and formidable (not!) costume might frighten the ladies of the court and children. In each instance Graves as Snug conveys her fears and panic speaking hardly a heard word but through not-quite pantomime and physical movement not unlike cultural touchstone of absurd comic sensibilities from television days gone-by: Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett.
Graves first came to my notice in several American Century Theater production from about 2008. Over time I have seen her work at 1st Stage (Tysons) and other local companies. So, let me end with this mixed performing arts media comment: Graves gently roars every bit as loudly and remarkably as Katy Perry or Helen Ready.
One can hope that local audiences will continue to watch her trajectory. Acting with the formidable talents of Midsummer cast members Holly Twyford and Erin Weaver, Graves is in great hands.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.