A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Rock Musical

Infinity Repertory Theatre update Shakespeare's comedy to the 21st century as a musical with a rollicking rock’n’roll aim in mind. Lysander and Dmitri (Demetrius) spar with cardboard guitars and compete with fancy cars; lovers won't return calls and Hermia fears getting grounded.

Overall the cast do a good job in managing to remember and stick to such unmemorable words and music.

For the most part, the lyrics eschew Shakespeare's words, instead going for contemporary language of getting dumped and Calvin Klein. While I see no reason to stick to Shakespeare's text for purity's sake, it is replaced here by lyrics generally devoid of any wit, rhyme or imagination. The humour relies on updating the play with non-sequitur wackiness, for example involving missing steering wheels and kumquats. Musically, the show is closer to a bland form of pop than rock; the soundtrack relies on a guitar repeatedly strumming a few chords and a love of key changes for the wow factor in the big belters. The chorus of fairies are good fun, with lots of earnest, energetic “woos” and “doo doo doos”, although there is a tendency for choruses to be weak, inane and tediously repetitive. Take as example the following lyric: “I know you are my destiny, my baby.”

The youth of the cast is fitting as it highlights the fickle nature of love as experienced in Shakespeare's play. There is some enjoyable jousting between Lysander and Dmitri as they compete for first Hermia and then Helena's love. One song in which Lysander states, “I'll love Helena ‘til I die” shows teenage angst colliding with puppy love, exposing a sore betrayal of his previous betrothed. The cast are energetic and exuberant and despite an overall lack of consistency voice-wise, they bring fun and a sense of glee to the performance. In particular, Lindsay Avellino is striking as love-crazy Helena with a rich deep voice full of confidence and sass. Jessie Shaw as Puck is delightfully wicked and full of mischievous charm with a fittingly pantomime performance straight from the commedia dell’arte, with some impressive physicality as she prances and leaps around the stage, and the audience. Overall the cast do a good job in managing to remember and stick to such unmemorable words and music. However, some musical diversity and some more rhyme, wit or grit lyrically would be appreciated. 

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Performances

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The Blurb

Shakespearean comedy with a rock'n'roll twist. Fickle teenage love, magic and comedy in this modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic. The Mayor's re-election, Hermia loves Lysander, Dmitri loves Hermia, Helena loves Dmitri. Bottom and The Crew search for the lost Hermia. Titania and Oberon battle, Puck plies her mischief, Bottom with a donkey's head, will anything ever be the same? Madcap adventure, music and magic. 'Playful 60s-style rock, the kind that might have been performed by Tommy Roe or Jan and Dean... Full of melody and goodwill' (Backstage.com).

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