A Summer of Shakespeare in Hartford

Both The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream share a common bond in that they are  Shakespearian comedies that could have easily been tragedies of Romeo and Juliet proportions without the interference of some meddling supernatural characters.  Both are, arguably, also ideally suited to summertime, when warm weather and sunshine tempt us to sleep outdoors and allow the faeries to interfere in our love lives, or perhaps to journey to exotic lands that may house magicians.  And Hartford is graced by stellar and unique productions of both plays this year.

The Tempest, which recently departed the Hartford Stage, was according to New York Times critic Sylvain Gold, “an ocean of words, words, words.”  Praised for a set that reflected the actual flowing script of the play and focused – in Gold's assessment – on the dictation of one of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays, it held focus on the Bard's triumph and mastery of language.

In direct and quite pleasing contrast, The CONNetic Dance company's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream promises to be an unspoken and steampunk ballet retelling of the story of star crossed lovers and mischievous woodland inhabitants.  Also charmingly, the youngest performer in the caste is three year old Rose, who plays the part of Titania's youngest charge.  In keeping with the youthful energy of the cast members, there is a proliferation of steam punk props – all on loan from local artists-  thrown onto the stage.   This modern twist, along with a musical score that includes semi-heavy electronic rhythms such as Air's 'The Word Hurricane,' invokes a thoroughly fresh and modern remake of the Shakespearean classic.  Thanks to carefully planned choreography, the story is easy enough to follow, and the enchantment of the tale is reborn in this modern adaptation. 

Let's be glad that the faeries are benevolent, the roses in the garden are blooming, the sun is shining, and that summer has blossomed in Hartford with some excellent adaptations – both traditional and modern – of Shakespearean classics.

 

The Tempest

hartfordstage.org

A Midsummer Night's Dream 

Two performances on June 23rd; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m; Wadsworth Atheneum; conneticdance.com

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