A few months ago Joey and I went to see a group of local actors, part of an acting group called Dead Creek Theatre Company, perform Romeo and Juliet. It was a lovely performance, one that inspired Joey and (if possible) made him love Shakespeare even more as it was his first opportunity to see a Shakespeare play, in its entirety, performed live.
That performance, however, pales in comparison to Dead Creek Theatre’s most recent performance: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While the Theatre Company changed the setting from Athens to New Orleans and cut a few lines for the sake of time they kept Shakespeare mostly intact. As they moved the scene to New Orleans, Oberon and Puck took on a more voodoo look but it did not detract from the essence of the play.
The play was performed outdoors in Heritage Park as a promenade, where the audience followed the actors from scene to scene. It was brilliantly executed. A cast member pulled a little red wagon with speakers in it and as we moved from scene to scene, jazz music played.
We were invited to sit as close to the actors as we wanted, provided we didn’t block any lighting, which was a nice accommodation as there were no microphones. My biggest complaint about their performance of Romeo and Juliet was that I had a hard time hearing all the actors and actresses as the stage stretched wide and when the action moved to the end opposite of where I sat, I could not hear the lines. On the contrary, last night, I heard every line, loud and clear.
Puck remained a family favorite character despite the voodoo costume. She was convincing as her character, very mischievous and clever.
Personally, Flute’s performance was my favorite. He did a stellar job acting as Thisbe in the play within the play (read your Shakespeare if I’m confusing you!) The kids and I were giggling uncontrollably at Flute’s attempt to perform as Thisbe. All of the Rude Mechanicals were so entertaining to watch…literally laugh out loud humor.
It cannot go without noting that this performance was originally meant to debut on August 31st, a week ago. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey ripped through nearby towns of Rockport, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas on August 25th. Corpus Christi received high winds and rain and a large portion of the city went without electricity for almost a week. The towns directly hit are still dealing with the horrific aftermath of the storm including the loss of homes, personal property and water and electricity issues.
Unfortunately, some of the original actors and crew lived in the areas hit worst by the storm and were unable to participate in the performance…which means lots of last minute changes were made. Folks took parts that weren’t originally theirs and within six days they were ready to perform. You wouldn’t know that just watching the performance. I’m still not sure who took on parts at the last minute…it was all so well acted and performed. It was introduced as a reader’s theater, but aside from the music stands a few of the actors used to hold their lines, I would have had no idea that these people hadn’t been preparing for months. This was far beyond a typical reader’s theater.
My only caveat: for some odd reason the director chose Work Song by Dan Reeder as one of the in-between-scenes, promenade songs. If it weren’t for that song (with the *f* word repeatedly being sung), I would have lauded this performance in every bit of social media I possibly could have. Unfortunately, adding a song with an inappropriate word (used not once but repeatedly) bumps this out of the completely family friendly entertainment category. Personally, my boys didn’t even notice the rude language, but I’d hesitate to advertise this as a performance for all ages as some kids might notice that word and some parents might find themselves offended. Honestly, Shakespeare himself tends to make tons of sexual innuendos but they often get lost in the language and unless acted out inappropriately, they become a bit of adult humor lost to the imaginations of children. I loved that this performance was very kid-friendly without any explicit acting of any of those innuendos, but that song? It makes me pause in making a blanket recommendation…now I feel inclined to recommend with reservations.
That being said, I do strongly encourage all of you (if you can just ignore that one offensive song) to go out and watch it next weekend. It really was an inspiring performance, made so by the clear love of Shakespeare and acting by all the actors and actresses. Director Daniel Anderson should give himself a huge pat on the back…he’s managed to brilliantly cast, imaginatively set the scene and invisibly direct the entire performance all while taking on the role of two characters at the last minute. I am impressed. And I think you will be, too.
I guarantee, if nothing else, you’ll be highly entertained by Puck and Flute.
There will be performances again next weekend: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (September 14th thru the 16th) beginning at 7:30 at Heritage Park.
(By the way, some of these pictures are a bit misleading making us look as if we’re the only ones in the audience…the crowd was behind us…with kids, we liked being up close and personal which made the park setting so ideal!)