Here in Central Virginia summer paints the land an emerald green and soft nights to entice the human population out of doors. One of my favorite activities is to see plays and concerts al fresco during the long summer evenings and recently I did just that- I went to Agecroft Hall in Richmond to see Henley Street/Richmond Shakespeare’s production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. In past years I have grumbled about the quality of Richmond Shakespeare’s shows. To wit, one particular production of ROMEO AND JULIET in which the actors were far too old for the parts of the star-crossed lovers and the sets were literally fashioned from 2 x 4’s and cardboard (the “structure” used for the balcony scene wobbled so terribly I feared for the actor’s safety – that was quite distracting). At any rate, the merger with Henley Street Theatre Company has apparently been a good move because the show was wonderful!
Of particular note is the set, a jungle gym of crepe myrtle branches created by Agecroft’s multi-talented Executive Director, Richard Moxley sits center stage and is expertly put to use by director, Jan Powell. The players weave in and out and onto this thing like threads on a loom. And when the lights are dimmed, a rich indigo lights the structure to create a beautiful jewel quality. It is simply brilliant!
The sound is also spectacular. Little bug hums and chirps speckle the evening, some human made and others recorded with whispery bits of music and dialog mixed in to add to the dream like quality of the show.
But best of all were the group of four fairies. Three young woman and one young man whom I would be honored to name here if I could only find my program (or if their names were mentioned in a cast list on the website). They moved so beautifully and affected such perfect natural mischief it is as if they just jumped out of an Art Nouveau painting to join in the romantic fun.
Also on the must mention list is the lovely VCU student who plays Puck. Quite simply put she is the best Puck I have yet to see. Playful and fun, confident and whimsical, she gambles and spins about the show like a kid (meaning an actual baby goat) amongst clover.
There is other good stuff too but time prohibits my expanding on them. My advice is to click here and get your tickets now and experience this play as it ultimately should be experienced- outdoors on a midsummer night.