Local stages have frequently treated us to the comic works of Ken Ludwig. In recent years, Triangle area audiences have laughed at Moon Over Buffalo, Lend Me a Tenor, and Leading Ladies. Now Forest Moon Theater in Wake Forest has given us yet another Ken Ludwig comedy. Directed by Bob Baird and concluding its two-week run on June 17-19 at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, Shakespeare in Hollywood is the story of the making of a movie of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream back in 1934.
SO: Suspend disbelief and accept the following premise: The characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream actually exist, and the events actually happened. When all of these events have taken place, Puck casts a spell that is supposed to send himself and Oberon home. Puck, however, mis-casts the spell, and they are sent to 1934 Hollywood where Warner Bros., in the wake of a successful staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is producing a movie version of the play.
Suspend a little more disbelief and accept that: The actors playing Oberon and Puck have both suddenly become unavailable. The director happens upon the real Oberon speaking one of the play’s speeches to the real Puck. He assumes that they are actors auditioning for the roles. He offers to cast them, and they accept.
NOW the fun can begin.
Oberon, apparently, has not learned his lesson about sending Puck to get a certain magical love-flower and to apply its juice to a mortal’s eyes. Romantic foibles similar to those seen in the play ensue.
Certain characters already have romantic interests in other characters. Puck, of course, mistakes one mortal for another and juices the wrong eyes. And various other characters get juiced accidentally.
The result is a veritable madhouse of juice-induced love triangles. Just when this situation starts to become predictable, Ludwig give us a very unexpected twist.
The ensemble cast handles all of the roles well. (It is probably worth mentioning that Ludwig has injected an extra measure of humor here -– that many of the roles are parodies of Hollywood stereotypes.)
Standout performances include that of Tim Wiest as Max Reinhardt (the stage director from Austria) and Tom Barbieri and Abbe Fralis as Oberon and Puck, respectively. All three of these characters are “fish out of water,” and each of these actors puts on the proper spin.
Remember that the play is set in 1934 and that a central character is from Austria. Do not be surprised that the script contains some historical references and some social commentary.
An observation: some of the scene changes seem to take a little too long, and that is unfortunate because there are several. Perhaps, this is a drawback of the venue; hopefully, this will be ironed out by the second weekend.
We consider this latest offering of Forest Moon Theater as a success and suggest that you consider adding it to your entertainment agenda.
SECOND OPINION: June 15th and May 25th Wake Forest, NC Wake Forest Gazette previews: http://wakeforestgazette.com/shakespeare-hollywood-tickets-sale-2/. and http://wakeforestgazette.com/final-weekend-shakespeare-hollywood/.
The Forest Moon Theater presents SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD at 7:30 p.m. June 17 and 18, and 3 p.m. June 19 in the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587.
TICKETS: $15 in advance ($13 students 18 and under and seniors 65+) and $18 day of show ($16 students 18 and under and seniors 65+).
BOX OFFICE: http://www.etix.com/.
SHOW: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/shakespeare-in-hollywood-show-information/, https://www.facebook.com/events/1623613431296216/, and http://www.wakeforestnc.gov/shakespeare-in-hollywood.aspx.
2015-16 SEASON: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/current-season/.
PRESENTER: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/, https://www.facebook.com/forestmoontheater, https://twitter.com/FMTheater, and https://www.youtube.com/user/ForestMoonTheater?feature=mhee.
VENUE: http://www.wakeforestnc.gov/renaissance-centre.aspx, https://www.facebook.com/WFRenaissanceCentre, and https://twitter.com/WFRenCen.
Shakespeare in Hollywood (2003 comedy): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/776/shakespeare-in-hollywood-ludwig (Samuel French, Inc.) and http://www.kenludwig.com/plays/shakespeare_in_hollywood/shakespeare_in_hollywood_1.php (Ken Ludwig’s web page).
Ken Ludwig (York, PA-born playwright and screenwriter): http://www.kenludwig.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7069 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0525024/ (Internet Movie Database), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Ludwig (Wikipedia).
Bob Baird (Wake Forest, NC director): http://facebook.com/robert.c.baird (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.