REVIEW: "Midsummer" and "Macbeth"

July 1, 2013

By John Moore for CultureWest

June 30, 2013

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s two 2013 mainstage outdoor offerings could not be more different. But they do have one thing in common (and I don’t mean that shared unit set): There are moments in both when I sat agape, asking myself, “Did they really just go there?”

Oh, yes, they did.

The moment comes in director Geoffrey Kent’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when Lysander (Sean Scrutchins) first encounters an unsuspecting Hermia after being put under a mistaken spell that makes him, to put it mildly, not love his lover anymore. In this production, Hermia is played by a lovely actress (Jenna Bainbridge) who sometimes walks with a cane. That’s all I’m saying … but the audible gasp that followed the moment was an all but unprecedented exchange of visceral, immediate emotional energy between the audience and any live performance on the Mary Rippon stage.

(OK, I’ll say one more thing: If Lysander is put under a spell, it stands to perfect reason that it would bring out a corresponding reversal in passion in him to match the level of true and honest love he felt for her before the spell. And that’s really all I’m saying about that.)

Last night’s opening of “Macbeth” brought much higher real-world stakes to the stage. Director Jane Page sets the story in 1980s war-ravaged Afghanistan. And while I would have preferred that if she were going to go there, that she force us to consider the more immediate moral consequences of the United States’ ongoing conflict with Afghanistan rather than Russia’s, still … what results is the kind of shocking collision between art and real-world relevance that, let’s face it, we don’t typically look to 400-year old plays in Boulder to provide us.

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