Actors rehearse prior to the debut of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Photo courtesy of Denise Elia-Yen)
By Josephine Rivera-Hoagland, editor and Roshni Davé, staff writer
With the beginning of another year comes another performance in the quad from drama teacher Denise Elia-Yen’s students. This production adapted Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, shortening it to a more digestible length. With performances lit by the setting sun and hand-strung fairy lights, the casual nature of the play gave way to exceptional talent from much of the main cast.
Elia-Yen originally planned to host a night of sonnet poem readings, apprehensive about the trials of putting on a full production. However, the cast proclaimed their enthusiasm and committed to the performance last spring, memorizing lines shortly before school started up in August to hit the ground running in rehearsals this year. With online auditions over and callbacks in the first week of school, our drama classes were determined to deliver the play. And deliver they did: a fantastic comedy enlivened with particularly sarcastic Athenian youths (Georgia Laganiere, Jacob Greenfield, Dylan DesBiens, and Will Mosier), a delectably triumphant Oberon (Stephen Donlon), and a hilariously agile Puck (Spencer Hayes).
The scene is set—the audience perches on the edge of the forest, with paper mâché Corinthian columns separating us from the scene below. Delicate music fills the air, courtesy of stagecraft students, and beautifully painted faces appear, delicate fairies and graceful Athenians dazzling for an hour and a half of enraptured laughter. The play features three plotlines that overlap with one another for the duration of a single drawn-out night, as a love rectangle of young Greeks stumble upon the land of the fairies just as an acting troupe arrives to practice their play, while the fairy king conspires to steal away a child. With some mischief and magic, chaos ensues for all parties involved.
Donlon, senior, transformed into an authoritative fairy king, dominated his scenes opposite Titania (Isabella Limper). However, he met his match with Puck/Robin Goodfellow. Their chemistry outdid that of the young and in-love Athenian youth, raising laughs and cheers from the audience. In one memorable interaction, Puck leaps onto Oberon’s back with a flower between his teeth as they run around the stage madly. Hayes’ performance warranted applause as well. The most fairy-like of the cast, his lithe movements and hysterical giddiness with his own plotting drew the eye again and again, refusing to let the audience go.
As for the Athenians, their performances encapsulated those dramatic, young obsessions of youth, with a sarcastic ring for most of their lines and a sufficient delivery. None of the actors particularly mastered the art of the comedy like they had the other two plotlines; however, Helena and Hermia’s brief tussle garnered more than a few chuckles from the crowd.
But the true stars of the show were not the fairies nor our romantic leads, but rather our misfit troupe of amateur actors: led by Sean Nash as Nick Bottom, their impeccable timing, physical comedy, and final “performance” left audiences howling. Elia-Yen made no mistake in her casting here, as Nash’s cocky iteration of Bottom infused all his scenes with an ebullient vigor. The final scene—the troupe’s play for the now-wedded youths—proved to be the cherry on top.
This short play epitomizes the Carrillo drama program as a gratifying treat for any student with some time to spare, featuring a handful of rising stars who will only continue to hone their craft in future productions. We can’t wait to enjoy their future performances.