Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review - The Thyme of the Season (Cross-Eyed Bear Productions and the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity)

By Byrne Harrison

It takes guts to write a sequel to a Shakespeare play, especially one of his most popular. I will give Duncan Pflaster, the playwright behind The Thyme of the Season, his due. He has created a fun and well written play that fully captures the spirit of A Midsummer Night's Dream, while wedding the Bard's gift for storytelling with a modern sensibility.

It's Halloween and marital problems have driven the young lovers of A Midsummer Night's Dream back into the forest. Little do they know that the fairies, thanks to a bargain they have with Hades, have to send a human soul to Hell that very night. Will one of the young Athenians be lost? Or will Bottom, made rich and famous after his performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, save the day? And will he ever find the ethereal woman for whom he is ever willing to make an ass of himself?

And speaking of making an ass of himself, will Puck be able to serve Oberon and bedevil Titania, not to mention woo the comely Pumpkinseed, all while under a witch's spell?

It's a comedy, so the answer to most of those questions is yes . . . kind of.

The production is marvelous all around. Mark Richard Caswell's costumes, especially the fantastical fairy costumes, are rich, rough and incorporate touches of the forest world that the fairies inhabit. Matthew Applebaum's original music, performed live during the show, adds a luxuriant touch. The acting is outstanding, with particular praise to Clara Barton Green who makes a marvelously spritely Puck and who plays very well in her scenes with Tania Jeudy's Pumpkinseed. Eric C. Bailey does a good job of creating a well-rounded Bottom, as it were, a comic word-mangler who nonetheless is no fool. While all the young lovers perform well, Kelly Nichols as Helena and the remarkable Rebecca Hirota as Hermia, steal their scenes.

Pflaster has written a fun, spirited and naughty show, and his direction keeps it fast and funny. I fully expect to see this clever show returned to the stage soon.

The Thyme of the Season
Written and Directed by Duncan Pflaster
Conceived by Duncan Pflaster and Clara Barton Green
Stage Manager: Shawna Cathey
Costumes: Mark Richard Caswell
Original Music/Guitar: Matthew Applebaum
Viola (June 5, 6, 8, 18, 23): Michelle O'Connor
Horn (June 11, 13, 19): Jesse Neuman
House Managers: Patricia Comstock and Nicholas Meo

Featuring: Clara Barton Green (Puck), Kelly Nichols (Helena), Rebecca Hirota (Hermia), Eric C. Bailey (Bottom), Matt Falber (Demetrius), Shawn McLaughlin (Lysander) Tania Jeudy (Pumpkinseed), Ryan G. Metzger (Oberon), Michelle Ramoni (Titania)

Closed June 23

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