(*all photos borrowed from Midsummer Scene facebook page)
Last night I had the privilege to attend the opening night of the Midsummer Night’s Dream at Fort Lovrjenac in Dubrovnik directed by Gary Wright. This performance is a part of Midsummer Scene (a new summer festival) and is in the production of Honey-Tongued Theatre. Now, the cast is mainly made of native English speakers with one exception – Csilla Barath-Bastaić (Croatian).
And this choice of non-native speaker is what I want to stop at first. I am all for Croatian actors performing in plays like this, but Csilla’s performance has a couple of things wrong with it, in my opinion. First off, Shakespeare’s is not the easiest language to understand for non-native speakers, especially when spoken on open stage, with all the elements playing against it. But Csilla’s lines were at times not understandable even for me who have read this play 4 times and seen it performed in English 2 times before. Her throaty deep voice, which some might think would clash with the role of Titania, unfortunately did not clash at all, considering the fact that she played the role as if it was a chain-smoking-rum-drinking-ex-pornstar lady of the night, and not the Fairy queen. I know that the erotic subtext in this play is not so much sub-text as it is an overt display of everything imaginable, but she went a step too far towards the grotesque and lewd. The fact that the same actress played Hippolyta in almost the same manner did not help things much.
This captured moment in time is a good representation of her acting throughout the play:
OK, now that that’s out of my system, let’s go on to more pleasant things. The rest of the crew was good. The Puck was puckishly adorable, Oberon/Theseus was kingly, Bottom was absurd, the workmen as actors were hilarious, the lovers were beautifully drunk on love, and Quince was perfect.
The audience on the opening night was as I expected – many invitees who don’t really care for the play who scrolled their facebook feed on their mobile phones and the rest were theatre enthusiasts and tourists. Luckily, the facebook-surfing people did not return after the intermission (the photos had been taken and they had been seen) so the second part was a bit more comfortable to watch. The actors had the audience in stitches at times and at the end the long applause was well deserved.
Dubrovnik is a town of culture, especially during the summer, but it really surprised me that the 450 anniversary of the Bard was not celebrated properly. This new festival and the announced performance of King Lear by Theatre Ulysses this summer are two steps in the direction of writing this wrong.
And now for a bit of eyecandy from the play: