Who knew Shakespeare was as sidesplitting and delicious as he is in an unpretentious and cute re-imagining in Soho? For the Millennium Talent Group, the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—a love jones to unrequited affection, fairies, an ass, and actors—triggered a resurrection of speech, oddballs, music, and dress from the 1950s.
Relocated to West Athens, California, Fools in Love née A Midsummer Night’s Dream guarantees an entertaining experience. While vibrant characters inhabit the Shakespeare classic, the often-considered perfect originals are no matches for their present counterparts. Over-the-top, outrageous, and hilarious, the re-imagined characters—from a decade when the on-the-edge United States settled into suburbia—captivate with their stage business and keep each member of its small-but-engrossed audience at the edge of his or her seat.
Oberon, King of the Fairies, lights the fuse that ignites the romp in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is re-imagined as a biker dude who wears a leather jacket and an anachronistic LED scrolling belt buckle that screens electronic phrases like “vroom vroom.” The four friends-but-rivals are Coca Cola-slurping, letter sweater-donning, poodle skirt-affecting teenagers at the height of sexual and emotional awakening. Each becomes a unique character with which the audience identifies and sees as a mirror image from an earlier time, if an adult, or from the present, if a child. As a hoarse, pelvis-thrusting Helena, Breeda Wool steals the show with her erratic comic timing and behavior. Her onstage time is what the audience craves. An added quartet of sweet-voiced Doo Woppers sings Top 40 hits from the fifties, including “I Will Follow Him” and “Stop! In the Name of Love,” appropriate overstatements of the action. While the text appears in the original form, the actors improvise and ad-lib as well, adding an artful unruliness to the Shakespeare original that is unpredictable and truthful in its timeless appeal.
One of the best features of the show, audience members are invited to become a part of the action. When becoming fairies or clouds, or helping characters evade each other, the production promises excitement for people of all ages.
Hula hoops, letter sweaters, poodle skirts, the Supremes, and Shakespeare had never before been as magnificent a combination.