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  • Paradoxical Performances of Shakespeare
  • Katharine Goodland
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Presented by The Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York, New York. August 23–September 9, 2007. Directed by Daniel Sullivan. Set Design by Eugene Lee. Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward. Lighting by Michael Chybowski. Music by Dan Moses Schreier. Sound by Acme Sound Partners. Choreography by David Neumann. With Daniel Orsekes (Theseus), Opal Alladin (Hippolyta), George Morfogen (Egeus), Mireille Enos (Hermia), Elliot Villar (Demetrius), Austin Lysy (Lysander), Martha Plimpton (Helena), Tim Blake Nelson (Peter Quince), Jay O. Sanders (Nick Bottom), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Francis Flute), Ken Cheeseman (Robin Straveling), Jason Antoon (Tom Snout), Keith Randolph Smith (Snug), Jon Michael Hill (Puck), Chelsea Bacon (First Fairy), Keith David (Oberon) Laila Robins (Titania), Herb Foster (Philostrate), and others.
Cymbeline Presented by Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, New York, New York. December 2, 2007–January 6, 2008. Directed by Mark Lamos. Set by Michael Yeargan. Costumes by Jess Goldstein. Lighting by Brian MacDevitt. Original Music by Mel Marvin. Sound by Tony Smolenski IV and Walter Trarbach. With John Cullum (Cymbeline), Martha Plimpton (Princess Imogen), Gordana Rashovich (Ghost of Posthumus’ Mother), Phylicia Rashad (Queen), Adam Dannheisser (Cloten), Michael Cerveris (Posthumous), John Pankow (Pisanio), Herb Foster (Cornelius, Ghost of Posthumus’ Father), Daniel Oreskes (Philario, Jupiter), Jonathon Cake (Iachimo), Ezra Knight (Caius Lucius), Michael W. Howell (Philarmonus the Soothsayer), Paul O’Brien (Belarius), David Furr (Guiderius), Gregory Wooddell (Arviragus), and others.
Antony and Cleopatra Presented by Theatre for a New Audience at The Duke on 42nd Street, New York, New York. April 3–May 2, 2008. Directed by Darko Tresnjak. Set by Alexander Dodge. Costumes by Linda Cho. Lighting by York Kennedy. Sound by Jane Shaw. Choreography by Peggy Hickey. Fight Direction by Rick Sordelet. With Marton Csokas (Antony), Jeffrey Carlson (Octavius [End Page 49] Caesar), George Morfogen (Lepidus, Old Soldier), John Douglas Thompson (Enobarbus), Randy Harrison (Eros), Matthew Schneck (Dercetas, Menecrates), Gregory Derelian (Canidius, Dolobella, Varrius), James Knight (Scarus, Pompey), Grant Goodman (Agrippa), Nathan Blew (Maecenas), Christian Rummel (Thidias, Menas), Lisa Velten Smith (Octavia), Laila Robins (Cleopatra), Michael Rogers (Alexas), Christen Simon (Charmian, Dancer), Christine Corpuz (Iras, Dancer), Ryan Quinn (Diomedes, Dancer), and Erik Singer (Soothsayer, Mardian, Euphronius).
Richard III Presented by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel, Garrison, New York. June 12–August 18, 2007. Directed by Terrence O’Brien. Lighting by Dan Scully. Costumes by Sara Jean Tosetti. Sound by Bo Bell. Fight Choreography by Chris Edwards. Choreography by Lisa Rinehart. With Chris Edwards (King Richard III), Noel Vélez (Duke of Clarence, Earl of Richmond), Paul Bates (Brackenbury, Stanley), Richard Ercole (Lord Hastings), Joey Parsons (Lady Anne, Queen Margaret), Clark Carmichael (Lord Rivers, Sir James Tyrrel, Bishop of Ely), Tom Hinman (Lord Grey), Julie Fain Lawrence (Queen Elizabeth), Ricardo Vazquez (Marquess of Dorset, Ghost of Clarence), Stephen Paul Johnson (Duke of Buckingham), Michael Borrelli (Sir William Catesby), Nance Williamson (Queen Margaret, Duchess of York), Wesley Mann (King Edward IV, Archbishop of York, Lord Mayor of London, Earl of Oxford), and others.

I attended performances at several popular Shakespearean venues in the New York area last year with no particular agenda in mind other than to get some free tickets, hoping that in the process of enjoying myself the shows would eventually cohere around a theme worthy of exposition. What I discovered was something of a paradox. The productions I saw were as advanced in their theatrical sophistication as they were regressive in their tacit attitudes towards race and gender.

The New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park was an entertaining romp through Shakespeare’s most popular summertime play. There were no deep messages to be unearthed, no questing for the dark heart of comedy, just polished acting, clear blocking, smart stagecraft and design, and clever physical comedy. In short, it was everything a general theatregoing audience would expect in a production of free, public Shakespeare: a fun, uplifting, well performed, perfectly pitched comedy that made key, if unsurprising, thematic and dramatic connections. [End Page 50]

The set’s focal point was a blighted Hawthorne, the native British tree around which...


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