Does the Colorado Shakespeare Festival deserve a second act?

June 8, 2013

By Juliet Wittman Thursday, Jun 6 2013

Under the watchful eye of director Geoffrey Kent, a rehearsal for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's A Midsummer Night's Dream gets under way at the Charlotte York Irey Dance Studios on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado. Shakespeare's "rude mechanicals," the working stiffs hired to put on a performance for the royal wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, are milling around the space — at least the actors playing these mechanicals are. The play within a play they're attempting is the tragedy of the doomed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe. One actor wears a flowing, curly Goldilocks wig. He'll be the lion who terrifies Thisbe, the mechanicals having all agreed in advance that this lion mustn't be so scary that he'll upset the ladies and get them all into trouble. The muscular fellow playing Thisbe slips on a dress. In one corner of the studio, Bud Coleman, chair of the CU theater and dance department, places a pair of shiny pink pointe shoes on his feet, stands and then rises, teetering, to the very tips of his toes. He'll be portraying Starveling, aka the mincing man in the moon, and he's going to have to practice that bourrée. In another corner, a small group that includes one of the play's heroines, Helena, is quietly dancing the Charleston in preparation for an entirely unrelated scene.

Nigel Gore, who's been cast as Bottom, walks to the front. Bottom — as you may remember from your high-school Shakespeare class — is the mechanical afflicted by fairy king Oberon with an ass's head halfway through the play; he's then courted by Oberon's lovely but bewitched consort, Titania. At this point, Bottom's been relieved of that head and reunited with his erstwhile friends; he's Pyramus in their play. Spotting the white scarf Thisbe left behind in her supposed flight from the curly-haired lion, he assumes she's dead and begins to lament and declaim. Gore hurls himself into that declamation with crazed intensity. Rarely has a passion been so torn to tatters on a stage. He roars. He rolls his "r"s ferociously. He staggers. Alliterates. Repeats. The man is beside himself with grief, incandescent with it. Now that his beloved is dead, his course of action is clear: He must kill himself. But how will he do it? Gore raises his wooden...Read more at