Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Midsummer Theatre Troupe Delivers Some High Energy Shakespeare

The recent flooding at Geneva's Island Park didn’t dampen the spirits of the Midsummer Theatre Troupe. This year, the 19-year old company performed Shakespeare’s As You Like It at River Park just down the road from the original scheduled location. The new space added an intimacy not normally found in an outdoor production. With a stage area only a bit larger than a backyard summer deck, this enthusiastic young company performed in front of a packed crowd that covered every square inch of available space.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s more popular summer treats. It’s a mistaken identity story where a young woman is banished from her home and must fend for herself in the forest dressed as a boy. Then she meets a young man already
Midsummer Theatre Troupe actors Dan McQuaid and
Kristen Duerdoth perform in "As You Like It"
smitten in love. But he doesn't know that the girl dressed as a boy is the woman he loves. Needless to say, they both spend the next 90 minutes finding out a lot more about each other.
The supporting cast features members from the court, country bumpkins, the occasional clown and a would-be philosopher. This cross-section of personalities nicely illustrates the contrasting wisdom that can be found when you spend time outdoors with people from different backgrounds.

Some of the deeper themes of the play are not richly explored here, but it appears that was not the point. This cast universally relished its new found home and played big and loud to the crowd with a level of high energy that was infectious. If the greatest challenge to performing outdoor theater is meeting your audience half way, then this company of actors more than made up the difference. And with a crowd filled with families and couples looking for a good time, it’s safe to say this presentation aimed to please them.
For our part, my two young theatergoers particularly enjoyed the double-casting, cross-dressing, slapstick comedy, along with Jacques' interaction with the audience during what could be described as the most famous Shakespeare speech of all time.

Midsummer Theatre Troupe's final performance of Shakespeare's As You Like It takes place on Saturday, July 22 at the Water Street Mall (by Riverfront Playhouse) at 7pm in Aurora, IL.

- Sean Hargadon 

Sean Hargadon is an actor, director, producer and adaptor, who has worked in professional and community theater for 20 years. He has traveled the Fox Valley, Chicago, New York, London and Canada to practice his trade. He has a Master of Arts degree in the Advanced Teaching of Shakespeare from the University of Warwick in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is the Artistic Director of the award-winning Janus Theatre Company, based out of Elgin. Hargadon also served on the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Elgin Fringe Festival, Next Wave Art Salon, Fallback Arts Festival, Pop-Up Poetry Project, and the popular Walkabout: Theater on Your Feet.