Neuwirth, Ricci in madcap and sexy 'Midsummer'

  • Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes

    Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes

    Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes

    The captain of the South Korean ferry that sunk off the southern coast has apologized as fears rise for those still missing. (April 17) …

  • All about Mohanlal

    All about Mohanlal

    All about Mohanlal

    Mohanlal is one of the superstars of Mollywood. While his villainous role in the Malayalam film Manjil Virinja Pookkal is still remembered by the audiences, the actor has worked in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films. Let's a take a look. …

  • Bhoothnath Returns Success Party For Cast And Crew

    Bhoothnath Returns Success Party For Cast And Crew

    Bhoothnath Returns Success Party For Cast And Crew

    Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Parth Bhalerao, Bhushan Kumar and director Nitesh Tiwari were present at the Bhoothnath Returns success party. Amitabh spoke about how happy he is for Ravi Chopra, now that the film has met with so much success! …

NEW YORK (AP) — "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

"Very true, Puck. But my, how buff and toned they are, too. Get me the number of their trainer!"

OK, we're taking a bit of liberty with Shakespeare's dialogue here. Oberon, king of the fairies, doesn't make that precise comment as he observes the four amorously confused lovers of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" duke it out in the freewheeling and highly entertaining new production at the Classic Stage Company that opened Sunday.

But he might as well. He's sitting there in an aluminum lawn chair, next to his "knavish sprite" Puck, munching on movie popcorn and sipping an oversized soda. What better way to observe not only the foolishness of mortals, but also how great they can look in their underwear?

Because, not to give too much away, the lovers — that would be Hermia (played by film actress Christina Ricci) and Helena, and their doltish suitors Lysander and Demetrius — wind up in a spectacular cat-fight, or shall we call it a human-fight, as they sort out their conflicting romantic and sexual urges.

They wrestle, they claw, they climb, they punch, they choke, they practically fornicate. At some point, someone seems to receive a wedgie. In the end, aided by Puck, they're sprawled out fast asleep in front of us, stripped to their tighty whities. Boy, do they deserve a nap.

The scene, best described as slapstick devolving into utter mayhem, threatens to push the other amusing plot line — involving Titania, Oberon's queen, and her ill-placed love for Nick Bottom, the man with an ass's head — to the sidelines. Luckily, Titania, played by the ridiculously youthful-looking Bebe Neuwirth, is also played with sex in mind. First there's her outfit: a black bodysuit, sheer fishnets, leather boots. Why is she decked out like a trapeze artist? If you look like Neuwirth at 53, why the heck not?

And the production lets the actress mine the sexual potential in Titania's lines. You might recall that when Titania falls for Bottom, thanks to Oberon's machinations, she invites him to "sit down on this flowery bed, While I thy amiable cheeks do coy." But did you remember that at the time, she's admiring his backside? Neither did we.

And in case the Bard didn't make clear what Titania does with Bottom while they're together, we get the sound effects. Let's just say the donkey's familiar cry of "Hee Haw!" takes on new meaning here.

Director Tony Speciale and set designer Mark Wendland are to be commended for their inventive set, mainly a mirrored back wall that's angled so as to provide a wonderful aerial view. The wall bears openings through which unseen hands occasionally pass things to the actors — like the popcorn and sodas — something like a fairyland drive-thru window.

Andrea Lauer's costumes, too, are clever — from the outlandishness of Puck's many outfits (a pink elephant suit, for example, or a tight-fitting striped number with an afro-like hairdo that looks like it dropped in from "Priscilla Queen of the Desert") or the biker chic of Oberon. The four lovers, on the other hand, look like they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalog: the males are prepped out in polo shirts, sweaters tossed over shoulders and white deck shoes, the females in nude wedges and short summery skirts.

There's also a very funny entrance for some Vuitton luggage, and rose petals galore — and we mean bushels full, burying Titania at one point for quite a while (we assume Neuwirth has no allergies).

Speaking of Neuwirth, she also plays Hippolyta, a much more understated part than Titania, and her low-pitched voice (think Lilith on "Frasier") makes for an even subtler delivery. Anthony Heald plays a regal Theseus, but has much more fun as the leather-garbed Oberon.

On the topic of fun, the so-called Mechanicals have more success being actually funny than in many productions. As Nick Bottom, Steven Skybell has a drawn-out death scene that induces hysterics in the audience; David Greenspan is a sweet and droll Francis Flute.

Taylor Mac as an especially zany Puck veers off book early and often, as when he tells the audience they should feel free to applaud after a song — "it took a lot of effort." And kudos to the four lovers — Ricci, Nick Gehlfuss, Halley Wegryn Gross, and Jordan Dean — for truly committing themselves to the over-the-top nature of the evening.

"This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard," says Hippolyta, when watching the play-within-a-play at the end. She may as well be referring to the whole production. But that's the point of Shakespeare's comedy, isn't it? This is the stuff that entertaining evenings are made of.

___

Online:

http://www.classicstage.org

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily entertainment updates.

Loading...
  • Ketahui kesalahan ketika bersolek
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Ketahui kesalahan ketika bersolek 3 hours ago
    Ketahui kesalahan ketika bersolek

    Di sini kami ingin berkongsi dengan anda tentang beberapa kesalahan ketika anda bersolek. …

  • Makanan yang boleh kawal penyakit
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Makanan yang boleh kawal penyakit Wed, Apr 16, 2014 11:08 AM MYT
    Makanan yang boleh kawal penyakit

    Di sini kami ingin berkongsi informasi mengenai beberapa jenis makanan yang baik untuk tubuh badan anda. …

  • Rawatan bawah mata dan kedutan!
    Hana Ahmad - Tupai
    Rawatan bawah mata dan kedutan! Wed, Apr 16, 2014 11:08 AM MYT
    Rawatan bawah mata dan kedutan!

    Masalah lingkaran hitam bawah mata serta kedutan boleh diatasi dengan mengamalkan tips-tips mudah berikut. …

  • US college entrance test, the SAT, gets a revamp
    Robert MacPherson - AFP News
    US college entrance test, the SAT, gets a revamp 5 hours ago
    US college entrance test, the SAT, gets a revamp

    Getting into college in the United States will no longer hinge so much on a high school student's grasp of arcane vocabulary or obtuse mathematical formulas. Changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) unveiled Wednesday are intended to breathe new vigor into the 88-year-old college entrance exam at a time when some critics are challenging its value. "The changes to the SAT will distinguish it from any current admission exam," said the College Board, the New York-based non-profit that …

  • Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan?
    Yahoo Newsroom
    Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan? Thu, Sep 19, 2013 1:54 PM MYT
    Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan?

    Pelat bukanlah disebabkan oleh lidah yang pendek. Apakah punca pelat? …

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.