spirits invade Hollywood
By Penny Rathbun
A good idea for a play would be to turn Oberon, King of the Fairies and Puck loose
in a 21st century office, but playwright Ken Ludwig had an even better idea.
Rover Dramawerks' production of Ludwig's "Shakespeare in Hollywood"
Puck and Oberon show up in a Hollywood production office in 1934 during the filming
of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", an environment more interesting than
any modern office.
The Shakespeare denizens gradually figure out they aren't
in Fairyland any more, but it turns out they have skills that are very useful
Shane Hamlin as Oberon is equally at home in a crown and
flowing cape or a tuxedo. He manages to give his spirit character an other-worldly
quality without sacrificing good, old-fashioned machismo, especially when he falls
in love with a mortal. Olivia Darnell, Oberon's love interest, introduces him
to all sorts of modern day things they don't have in Fairyland such as the commisary
and terms like star.
He adjusts almost too well to 1930s Hollywood, telling
Puck he is going to be a moon. It's easy to forgive the King of the Fairies if
he gets his celestial terms confused, or when asked his name he matter-of-factly
declares, "I am Oberon, King of the Fairies" and is always puzzled at
the reaction he gets.
Puck, as played by Robin Coulonge, is an exercise
in cognitive dissonance. He is often played as a mischievous boy. In this Hollywood,
Puck is a mischievous boy in the body of a less-than-anorexic, thirty-something
woman. It takes some getting used to, but it eventually works. Puck goes completely
Hollywood. The relationship between Puck and Oberon is fun to watch, especially
when his boss figures out Puck has made Olivia Darnell fall in love with the wrong
Julie Osborne is Olivia. She is utterly starstruck in both the
Hollywood and the Fairyland sense. She gets a part in the movie, but seems ethereal
enough to go home with Oberon.
Any show set in 1930s Hollywood has to have
a Dumb Blonde. Monica Rivera as Lydia Lansing raises dumb blondeness to dizzying
heights. She proves there are a few synapses firing under the wig when she recites
one of her "Dream" speeches backwards because it makes as much sense
to her that way as forwards.
She keeps Jack Warner, played by Gary Anderson
on a short leash. Anderson looks and acts like he stepped out of a 1930s black-and-white
movie. He doesn't understand Shakespeare or why he is producing it. He just wants
to keep Lydia happy. His movie mogul inspires the suspicion that there are executives
in Plano today, with modern tailors, that have the same concerns.
sails through all of this with aplomb. Mark-Brian Sonna's Reinhardt maneuvers
these choppy comic waters with ease. His occasional mentions of what is going
on in his home country provides a reminder that Oberon, Puck, and the Hollywoodites
are living in troubled times.
Watch for Rick Dalton as Will Hays when
he falls in love with a mirror due to some plot tricks Puck brings about with
a magic flower. There are probably Hollywood ghosts hanging about that delight
in that particular comeuppance.
Mikey Abrams as Daryl must have gone to
sycophant school for this show.
Patsy McGregor Sadowski, Timothy Irle, Kevin
Wickersham, and Vic Case round out the comedy with multiple roles.