Director John-Frederick Jones’ staging in Irvine is standard fare with some inventive touches and a few standout performances.


Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” more than most of his plays, lends itself to interpretation and what is known as a director’s concept. One extreme example of this was John C. Fletcher’s imaginative and hilarious setting of the play in the world of Dr. Seuss, at the PCPA / Theatrefest in Santa Maria and Solvang a few years ago.

Director John-Frederick Jones’ staging of the play at Irvine Valley College is not that outlandish, but it has some individuality and is hampered only by the inability of a number of the performers to breathe substantial life into it.

If, for the most part, this looks like a fairly standard “Dream,” notice must be given to its more inventive moments. There is, for instance, the aggressive dominatrix of a Hippolyta, played with assurance by Brittany Riley, who gives the impression that Dustin Lorentz’s junior clerk of a Theseus may not be destined to wear the pants in the family. It’s a historically valid take on the character.


John Beane’s ironic, somewhat dim, but very enthusiastic Lysander, of the befuddled young lovers, is a Lysander to remember. Beane also is one of the few members of the cast able to make Shakespeare’s verse come alive.

Paul Burt’s equally dim Bottom also stands out, particularly in the Pyramus and Thisby interlude the rustics put on. Burt is ably abetted by Dan Rust’s hysterical Flute, playing with complete abandon the silly Thisby.

Terry Gordon’s Titania, queen of the fairies, is lusciously ripe, especially in her adoration of the ass into which Bottom has been turned.

Jones has given into the common temptation to cast an actress as Puck, and Megan Beghtol does little to justify the choice. She is inclined to pitch her voice too high, making it unclear. She gives the impression that she is a cantankerous intern in a modern business office. That vocal trap also calls into question casting Amy Caves as “Pauly” Quince. Ditto for Marsha Collins’ Egea, mother of Hermia, who is hindered by overplayed pouting in her anger.

Although William Tanner’s Demetrius and Melissa Miles’ Hermia are standard and acceptable, they are overshadowed by Crystal Tucker’s volatile and unself-conscious Helena.

Todd Hoskins, Kevin Weltmer and Terrence Heesch are acceptably bumbling as the rest of the rustics, but Ramin Karjoo, although he looks the proper Oberon, errs in proclaiming his lines with stentorian stiffness, more in the 18th century style than the freer, more accessible style of today.



* “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Forum Theatre, Irvine Valley College, 5550 Irvine Center Drive. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends May 11. $9. (714) 451-5333. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Melissa Miles: Hermia

John Beane: Lysander

Crystal Tucker: Helena

William Tanner: Demetrius

Dustin Lorentz: Theseus

Brittany Riley: Hippolyta

Marsha Collins: Egea

Paul Burt: Nick Bottom

Amy Caves: Pauly Quince

Dan Rust: Francis Flute

Todd Hoskins: Tom Snout

Kevin Weltmer: Snug

Terrence Heesch: Starveling

Ramin Karjoo: Oberon

Tari Gordon: Titania

An Irvine Valley College Department of Theatre production of Shakespeare’s comedy, produced by Ron Ellison. Directed by John-Frederick Jones. Scenic design: Suzie K. DuVal. Lighting design: Gary Christensen. Sound design: Jim Rynning. Music design: Randy Woltz. Costume design: Nancy Bracken. Choreography: Valerie Casey. Stage manager: Richard A. Lucas.