Fairy spirits invade Hollywood

By Penny Rathbun
Staff writer

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.

In 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 in Hollywood.

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 person.

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.
Max Reinhardt 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.