The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble’s production of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” takes the audience on a fast, fun and fantastical ride that includes over-the-top comedy, mesmerizing design choices and even a kooky brawl among four underwear-clad characters.
Joseph Discher and Bonnie J. Monte’s adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” obviously sets Shakespeare’s comedy in winter, and in some of the most compelling scenes, the set design, costuming and makeup immerse the audience in a mystical land of romance and snow.
Fairy king Oberon, played with an easy command by Michael Knowles, has silver horns, wears a flowing skirt of sorts and has white powder across his face and bare chest. Casey Bessette’s Puck playfully casts spells, banters with Oberon, orchestrates the airy movements of other fairies and occasionally skates across the stage, as if on ice or in a dream.
“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” has an especially effective bit of stage business that frames the action and inspires the set, but I don’t want to spoil that effect here.
Collective Face artistic director David I.L. Poole designed and directed the show, which is the second production in the ensemble’s season of “ruptured romances.” Poole and his 21 cast members keep the play moving quickly — it’s under two hours with no intermission — and never let the stage theatrics overwhelm the richness of Shakespeare’s language.
“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” will continue its run at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 16 in the Kennedy Fine Arts building at Savannah State University. Reservations and tickets are available through the Collective Face website.
The Collective Face will return in March with “Hello Again,” Michael John LaChiusa’s musical inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play “La Ronde.” The ensemble will finish the season in May with Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.”
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.