Reviewed by Lory Martinez
A clever bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream opened last weekend in the Watters Theater of Binghamton University’s Fine Arts Building, presented by BU’s Theatre Department in conjunction with Chile’s Duoc Universidad Catolica. Directors Tom Kremer and Rodrigo Nunez have collaborated successfully to present a Spanish/English version of this classic farce of fairies, love spells and hilarious misunderstandings during one midsummer night.
Now, I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I heard the famous comedy would be performed in two languages. As a native Spanish speaker, I felt it might be a bit redundant, what with all of the repeated lines. However, Nunez and Kremer have managed to bring the best of both worlds to this comedy of errors, guiding an international cast of actors through a brilliant representation of cross-cultural humor.
Instead of producing a disaster of living, walking subtitles, the directors have selected a talented cast that works well in the two-language world. Their repetition of lines in Spanish (or in English depending on the scene) is hilariously self- aware, with some of the best bits coming from having the actors translate for each other.
My personal favorites were Puck 1 and Puck 2 played respectively by BU’s Christina Catechis (seen earlier this season in Dead Man’s Cell Phone) and DUOC’s Amanda Lia Muller Pino. Watching the dynamic between these two is like watching echoes of great comedy duo, from Lucy and Desi to Bert and Ernie. Their master, Oberon (Andrew Bryce), add to the pair’s already hilarious banter.
The Fairies — Constanza Escudero Munoz, Lindsay Ryan, Rocio Cuadra Vergara, and Paula Carolina Hofman Villar, led by Queen Titania (Anita Contreras Vegas) — are the source of some of the best “I see what you did there” moments. During one scene in particular, Ryan’s fairy is supposed to translate what the three Spanish-speaking fairies have said and, instead, merely says “Si” (“Yes”) — no doubt a note to the near-impossible nature of a completely comprehensible bilingual production.
The main plot features lovers wandering about a forest being manipulated by the fairies as they navigate the mists. Rudy Bamenga and Mayra Cuadra Calvanese play the stately Duke and would-be duchess preparing for their impending nuptials. Expertly cast, this pair plays royalty pretty convincingly. I imagined a young Queen Isabella as I watched Calvanese navigate the stage.
Katherine Prew plays Helena, the wronged mistress of Demetrius (Benjamin Gorrono Cooper), who is to marry Hermia (Stephanie Gomerez). Of course this is one of those complicated Shakespearean entanglements we know and love, so Hermia is in love with Lysander (Giordano Bruno Rossi Sara). Keep an eye out for Prew’s accent, perfectly outfitted for a Shakespeare stage. The suitors, Cooper and Sara, are hilarious caricatures of spellbound romancers, and as their partners only speak English, the cross-cultural differences are highlighted, adding more laughs to an already droll play.
Last, but not least, an honorable mention must be given to the actors of the play-within-the play, Pyramus and Thisbe: Bottom (Jake Wentlent), Quince (Carlos Sanchez Elissalde), Flute, (Gino Porras Abarca), Snug (Juan Ignacio Hartwig Bahamondes), Snout (Anthony J. Gabriele) and Starveling( Denis Silvestri). I cannot give away too much, but suffice to say I was tearing up from laughing so hard.
IF YOU GO: A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be presented at Watters Theater at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 3 and 4) and 2 p.m. Sunday (May 5). For tickets, call 777-ARTS or visit Anderson.Binghamton.edu. An eight-night run is planned for this summer at the DUOC campus in Chile.