By Alex Rayment
So I have a confession to make. I have never seen A Midsummer Nights Dream. Theatre sacrilege, I know. You purists can send your hate mail to someone who cares. However, when I realized that Offensive Shadows being put on by Studio 180 was the sequel to said classic, I thought it would be prudent to at least read a Wikipedia synopsis on the subject.
Thank God I did, or I would’ve been bored out of my mind for the first half of this relatively short piece. I even did my research and still felt like the outsider of an inside joke.
The play opens with a monologue from Puck, a retired fairy, essentially explaining most of what happened in Shakespeare’s original. I found myself looking to the people beside me for hints at whether I should be laughing at the “donkey” or “shape shifting brat” comments. In hindsight it seemed more like a small parody sketch on fairies that had somehow managed to tack itself on to slightly larger parody sketch on marriage. This being emphasized by the fact that, after his monologue, Puck doesn’t come back. I spent the rest of the play waiting for the scene to freeze and for him to come out with an aside to the audience or to rearrange the props. Sadly, I was disappointed.
When the main characters finally make their appearances, the play starts to pick up momentum. More because things are now presented in plain English than anything, but I’m not going to complain about things getting interesting. The four “familiar” faces from A Midsummer, after a bit more recap, quickly turn the play into a comedy on relationships and marriage. It holds that tone for the rest of the play, which is not very long.
When it ended, the general consensus of my companions and I was: “Really?…that’s it?”.
We had spent so long sitting through the intro that it dwarfed the actual product. Like when the picture on the box makes it look better than it actually is. Whether you enjoyed it or not it feels incomplete somehow. I kept expecting Puck to come back out holding a sign reading: “To Be Continued…”.
On the flip side: the acting is solid; the dialogue snappy; and the lighting, sound and set design, although simple, is impressive and works very well.
To really boil it down this show suffers from taking too long to get on the road and not enough time to visit once you get there. If you happen to have seen A Midsummer Nights Dream (and remember it well), I’m sure you’ll find this funny and entertaining. Doubly so, if you happen to be long married.
I don’t fall into either category so this isn’t the play for me, but for you slightly more traveled audience members I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.
– Offensive Shadows is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue) until Sunday Oct. 19th
– Tickets and showtimes are: $30…Thurs/Fri…8pm | $35…Sat…8pm | $15…Sun…2:30pm
– Tickets can be reserved via phone (416-531-1827) or purchased at the door
– Running Time: 90 mins (no intermission)
Photo of Offensive Shadows courtesy of Studio 180