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No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

No Refund Theatre (NRT) put a campy spin on the classic William Shakespeare comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

For those who failed high school English or aren’t major fans of the English playwright, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” follows three separate subplots that collide together at the end.

The story starts with Duke Theseus and Queen Hippolyta, an eager couple ready to marry in four days. Theseus is approached by an Athenian, Egeus, and his daughter, Hermia. Hermia is in love with a man named Lysander, yet is arranged to marry Demetrius. Hermia’s friend, Helena, is madly in love with Demetrius who often overlooks or pushes Helena away.

Duke Theseus gives Hermia an offer: follow her father’s wishes and marry Demetrius or die.

In an act of rebellion, Hermia and Lysander run away to the forest in hopes of finding refuge at Lysander’s Aunt’s house. In hopes of being in the good graces of her unrequited love, Helena tells Demetrius of Hermia’s escape plan. Hermia then follows Demetrius into the woods as he hopes to find Hermia.

In the forest is a group of amateur actors planning a performance for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. Led by Peter Quince, the members hash out the script and practice the performance. A notable character is Nick Bottom, an overdramatic and egotistical actor, who has the privilege of playing a leading role. The group heads into the forest to find a peaceful place to rehearse.

The audience lastly meets Oberon and Titania, the king and queen fairies. The couple is the classic, on-again-off-again pair, currently, the couple is estranged from a personal spat. In retaliation, Oberon calls for Puck, his jester, and the story’s narrator, to find the “love-in-idleness” flower. The flower produces a magical juice that when placed in a victim’s eyes causes them to fall in love with whoever is in front of them. Oberon hopes to curse Titania with the flower and have her fall in love with a wild beast. After seeing Demetrius rebuff Helena, Oberon commands Demetrius to be cursed by the potion, causing him to return Helena’s affections.

“[Puck] is the one person that can really connect with the audience like the amount of times I’m allowed to break the fourth wall. I was given like so much free will to add lines in that weren’t in the script,” Puck’s actor, third-year psychology student, Pearce Hartz said. “Robin is a great director.”

After a case of mistaken identity and watching Bottom be a terrible actor, Puck returns to Oberon with the results of his adventure: both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, who think the situation is a sick prank, and Titania is in love with Bottom, who has been turned into a half-donkey, half-man creature, while Hermia is alone.

Oberon, who wants to fix the mess he created, reverts everything back to normal, making everyone affected think the past events were just a dream.

Directed by third-year psychology student Robin Goodfellow, a major change to the performance was the blind casting process. This resulted in most of the main characters, like Lysander, Oberon, and Titania being gender bent or played by gender-neutral actors.

“It’s really tied into gender, which is why I cast a lot of people who are not cisgender because gender is very important thing to me,” Goodfellow said. “Midsummer is like one of the ways I figured out my gender and my name. It’s very near and dear to my heart.”

Another difference with NRT’s rendition is the general sense of chaotic and cheesy humor injected into the play. From improv to callback jokes to fourth-wall-breaking stares, the humor in this show is well-tailored to a 21st-century audience.

Chris Collins, a first-year communications major, plays Demetrius. Before the show, Collins wasn’t the biggest fan of Shakespeare.

“When I see [the show] put on, it’s like a whole different thing, especially with like all the people in this show. Everybody here carries their load so well, and everybody has so much fun,” Collins said.

Engaging for both fans and foes of Shakespeare, the play is funny, clever, and slightly crude. The show will take place at 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 29, and 8 p.m. on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, in 111 Forum. As always, admission is free.

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About the Author

Marie Moyer

Marie is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. She loves being fiscally irresponsible at local farmers markets, watching niche documentaries on HBO, and going to Penn State hockey games as "self-care." You can reach her on Instagram - @_mariemoyer_ or send her suggestions (and cat photos) via her email - [email protected].

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