Theatre Review by Don Fowler
The Gamm closes its 37th season with a chaotic interpretation of the hysterically funny “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Fred Sullivan Jr., who has appeared in the Shakespeare comedy five times.
We have seen the play many times, from high school productions to the pros. While it usually tends to reach for some of its humor, never have I seen it reach so high (and so low) for a laugh.
Sullivan is known for his physical humor, a technique he instills to the nth degree in his actors.
Every word and every phrase has a physical component added. Language is accompanied by some kind of movement – be it a raising of the eyebrows, hand gesture or racing up a steep ramp.
No one does it better than Nora Eschenheimer as Helena, a Boston actress who is making her mark as one of Gamm’s best. Whenever she was on stage, my eyes followed her every move. Whatever she said or did conjured laughter.
Helena is one of four young lovers who seek refuge in the woods where the fairies play tricks on them that lead to chaos in their relationships.
This has to be one of – if not the largest – casts ever assembled at Gamm. There is no leading actor. Every person has their moment in the sun, or should I say, “under the moon”.
The members of the court open and close the story, setting the stage for the two pairs of lovers. Then there are the fairies who live in the forest and get enjoyment from playing tricks on the foolish humans.
And then we have the amateur actors, led by Tony Estrella’s Bottom, who becomes a bit of an ass. Veteran actor Jim O’Brien and RI Comedy Hall of Fame recipient Frank O’Donnell add their talents to the troupe.
Talk about physical humor, watch O’Donnell when he plays a wall. That’s right, a wall.
My only complaint, and it is against the playwright, not the production, is that the Bard doesn’t know when to end the play. It goes on a bit too long after it seems like everything has been resolved. But that is a minor complaint when you realize that your gut is sore from laughing so much. And that you have seen a Shakespearean play that is easily accessible.
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