A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival 2015. A review.

A Midsummer Nights Dream by the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival 2015. A review.  July 8-August 8, 2015 in Victoria BC.

Is there any more enchanting story in all of Shakespeare’s canon than A Midsummer Night’s Dream with its interwoven tales of young lovers, workers, faeries and nobles? Oft interpreted, “Dream”, as it is sometimes called in short hand, is in the public mind of late with the film version of Julie Taymor’s stage production released in June 2015. In Victoria, a song cycle was performed by the Victoria Symphony at the beginning of the year and Pacific Opera Victoria includes the opera by Britten in their 2015-2016 season. Personally it’s the Shakespeare play I have seen most often—the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival production (July 8-August 8, 2015) marks the third time in the past calendar year alone.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Seated close to the Camas Stage underneath majestic oaks, it’s easy to imagine being a groundling in Shakespeare’s time. The stage is bare, except for a small heap of stacked stones with some sparse shrubbery.

In the distance a strange figure stands on a rocky outcropping, proud feathered cockscomb atop steampunk inspired garb—it’s Puck (Candace Woodland—mischievous and sly) come to stir things up among mortals and spirits.

The visual delights are myriad. Absent elaborate sets, A Midsummer Night’s Dream depends upon music (direction and composition Sarah Jane Pelzer and Kiaran McMillan, performed by the players), costume design (Jimbo (James) Insell assisted by Brady Taylor), lighting (Paul Croy)—as the sun dips, and the talents of the actors in translating the 400 year-old words for a modern audience’s comprehension.

Recent developments with the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival include the decision, in 2014, to move to a repertory model with the bulk of the cast playing roles in both summer shows. Professional mentor actors have been hired—this year Sarah Jane Pelzer (A Glass Menagerie-Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre; Ride the Cyclone-Atomic Vaudeville) and Trevor Hinton (Waiting for Godot—Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre). Pelzer is a trained opera singer and actor while Hinton has extensive experience in movement and fight choreography. The strength of the ensemble is evident throughout, in the quality of their vocal work—including the beautiful parsing of the language and the power of voices which must compete with passing buses and planes flying overhead—and the carefully choreographed yet exuberant staging (choreographer Sarah Anne Murphy, dance captain Megan Greenwood).

Director Britt Small chose to cast Theseus (Trevor Hinton) and Hippolyta (Sarah Jane Pelzer) as the faerie king Oberon and his queen Tatania—the transformation is magnificent, taking the actors from regal and reasoned to wild with lascivious abandon in a blink.

The young lovers—Hermia (Jesse Deutscher), Lysander (Kiaran McMillan), Helena (Michelle Morris) and Demetrius (Simon Paterson)—are very equally matched. Watching them struggle with desire, passion and rebellion as plans are thwarted brings sharp memories of teen-age years.

The faeries (Cam Culham, Emily deKorte, Katya Delancey, Peter Gatt, Megan Greenwood, Kat Koenigshofer) step straight out of Candyland or Willy Wonka with vivid colours, baubles, fanciful headdresses, glitter and all manner of bustiers and crinolines, while the Rude Mechanicals—the workmen who will perform the play-within-a-play—(Cam Culham, Megan Greenwood, Alex Judd, Taylor Lewis, Susie Mullen, Paul Henry Oppers) are attired in the most outrageous steam-punk-inspired garb and then, in Arabian Nights themed robes to play Pyramus and Thisbe.

Ranging far and wide, in wooded glen and over stony ground, the actors move the story along briskly and capably. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is captivating in dynamic action scenes and entrancing as lovers stumble about the wood at night, and faeries cavort in their kingdom.

There is phenomenal talent and training present in the company with many members drawn from current students and alumni of the University of Victoria and Canadian College of Performing Arts, but the GVSF also has a strong mandate for providing opportunities to artists who wish to develop their craft. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream two stand-outs are Kiaran McMillan as Lysander (in his stage-acting début) and the dashing, debonair, Paul Henry Oppers as a full-of-himself Bottom. Cam Culham does yeoman’s work playing Eugeus the Athenian father, Starveling (a Mechanical) and–my favourite—a pink-leotarded and tutued faerie.

Director Britt Small works magic in this animated and vigorous adaptation, weaving the four storylines seamlessly in a dance of emotion, ardor, logic and abandon. Two hours passed all too swiftly; audience members as young as three can attest to the spell-binding nature.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Britt Small
Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival, Camosun College Landsdowne Campus
July 8-August 8, 2015 Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 pm
Tickets through Ticket Rocket or at the door
$24/$19 seniors and students. Children and under FREE.
Season passes $42/$33 seniors and adults

Please note: Parking $3.25 in the Robbins lot
Some chairs and blankets are provided, but it doesn’t hurt to bring yours if you have them. It can get chilly outdoors at night so plan accordingly.


Director Britt Small
Production Design Jimbo (James) Insell
Choreographer Sarah Anne Murphy
Stage Manager Autumn Antonsen
ASM Peter Gatt
Lighting Design Paul Croy
Music Composition & direction Sarah Jane Pelzer
Fight Choreography Trevor Hinton
Dance Captain Megan Greenwood
Wardrobe supervisor Susie Mullen
Assistant props Caroline MacKenzie

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Eugeus/Starveling/Faerie Cam Culham
Faerie/Ensemble Emily deKorte
Faerie/Ensemble Katya Delancy
Hermia Jesse Deutscher
Snug/Faerie Megan Greenwood
Oberon/Theseus Trevor Hinton
Flute Alex Judd
Faerie/Ensemble Kat Koenigshofer
Peter Quince Taylor Lewis
Lysander Kiaran McMillan
Helena Michelle Morris
Snout Susie Mullen
Bottom Paul Henry Oppers
Demetrius Simon Paterson
Titania/Hippolyta Sarah Jane Pelzer
Puck Candace Woodland

Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary  tickets to attend the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival.

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.


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