The Daily Gamecock

Review: 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ brings a modern twist to a Shakespeare classic

<p>"A Midsummer Night's Dream"&nbsp;at Drayton Hall uses a surrealist approach to portray a magic forest in the&nbsp;classic play.</p>
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Drayton Hall uses a surrealist approach to portray a magic forest in the classic play.

William Shakespeare is widely considered to be the greatest playwright to ever live, and as this year marks the 400th anniversary of his death, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the second Shakespeare play that Robert Richmond, artistic director of the theatre program, will direct on stage this year at USC. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing in the Drayton Hall Theatre, is a must-see production here on campus.

Though the name William Shakespeare may draw up memories of high school English class, Richmond’s concept for the production has properties far from those of a sleep-inducing third reading of “Romeo and Juliet.” Neda Spalajkovic, set designer and third-year master of fine arts design student, remarked that “the concept was just to have the idea that we are not hiding that we are in the theater.” The surrealist approach gives the audience the ability to take everyday items shown to them and create something magical in their minds.

Though every part of the production is certainly spectacular in its own right, fourth-year theatre student Noell Staton says that “the design that they’ve come up with for our forest is beautiful ... for the audience, visually, that’s a part to look forward to.”

The actors, of course, are key in creating the dream for the audience, and they won’t disappoint. Fully immersed in their characters, they bring Shakespeare’s comedy to life. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” there are different types of characters: the Athenians, who are upper class, have their eccentric counterparts, the mechanicals, who participate in a play within the play. Both of the former run into the fairies, who are wonderfully mischievous in their antics, bringing havoc to the lives of the mortals. 

Second-year theatre student Susanna McElveen takes on the role of a mechanical for this production, remarking that the ending, when the audience gets to experience the secondary play, is her favorite part. “It's written to be the comedy portion of the show,” she said. This comedic portion of the show is definitely a rousing follow-up to the resolution of the love crises and is difficult to not laugh at.

Equally impressive as the rest is the costuming for the production, which blends well with the roles of the characters and adds substance to the show. The Athenians, more serious and regal than the others, have business suits and school uniforms, whereas the cooky mechanicals sport stereotypical artist attire, and the fairies’ all black, gothic costumes play up their troublesome manners.

The show will run Friday, Sept. 30 until Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Drayton Hall Theatre, 1214 College St., excluding Monday, Oct. 3 and Tuesday, Oct. 4. Tickets can be purchased at the Longstreet Theatre box office between 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. General admission is $18, admission for students is $12 and admission for faculty, military and seniors over 60 is $16.