When you hear that someone called Zombie Joe is adapting and directing a Shakespeare play, how can you not envision the Bard gone horror film? Invasion of the Gentlemen Corpses of Verona? Hamlet, Prince of Teenage Evil? Mutant Coriolanus? Stepford Wives of Windsor?
Firecat Productions’ hour-long version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, now running at the Players Theatre Loft, comes closer to A Midsummer Night of the Living Dead—but not in a good way. An ensemble of 12 young players shout and jump their way through the romantic romp, uniformed in black pants and tops. Faces are painted with raccoon eyes and spiderwebs, tummies with flowers and the like. Moving in a tight amoeba-cluster of sweaty bodies, actors leap out of the pack to speak rapid-fire lines before diving back in. On the tiny, bare stage, it looks and feels like an acting class for overcaffeinated Goths.
Midsummer—a play I always thought indestructible—gets trampled under this noisy mess. Shakespeare’s comedy about the confusion of realms—fairies, courtiers, animals—just can’t emerge when everything’s so mashed together that characters are never created. By the time the rustics stomp and scream their way through the Act V “Pyramus and Thisbe” play-within-the-play, it feels indistinguishable from the rest—mindless like a zombie, but without the thrills.