Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Synetic co-founders Paata Tsikurishvili (director) and Irina Tsikurishvili (choreographer) originally staged this adaptation of William Shakespeare's comedy in 2009 and it's always been an audience favorite. The cast includes both longtime Synetic actors and members of its Teen Company, as well as two usually unseen creative contributors: Nathan Weinberger (Quince), who has done numerous script adaptations for Synetic; and Koki Lortkipanidze (Starveling), resident composer and, here, also an onstage performer on a partially gutted upright piano.
The most physically adept member of this wildly talented cast may be Ariel Kraje as Puck. As she spreads mischief among the rest of the characters, she disguises herself in turn as a boulder and a plant (costume design by Anastasia Rurikov), scuttles on her back, and flips her body in astonishing ways.
Part of the joy of this production is how it manages to incorporate many different kinds of physical presentation. Oberon (Philip Fletcher) and Titania (Stella Bunch) are majestic but also know how to frolic when the time is right, and the mismatched couples Hermia (Nutsa Tediashvili), Lysander (Lev Belolipetski), Demetrius (Aaron Kan), and Helena (Anna Tsikurishvili) are a very frisky group whether in love, frustration, or hate. It's all slapstick, if a little suggestive at times.
Then there's Vato Tsikurishvili, who dominates the stage as Bottom. He needs no words to demonstrate to his fellow "rude mechanicals" how well he would play each of their roles in the play-within-the-play, to their growing exasperation, and his transformative encounters with Puck and Titania are beautiful, even moving.
Phil Charlwood's wide-open scenic design allows for unrestricted movement, while also incorporating two ropes from which performers swing on occasion. Lighting designer Andrew Griffin sets the scene with a luminous projected full moon and uses color to visually track the shifts in mood. Ben Cunis has created fight choreography that would not be out of place in Romeo and Juliet as Lysander and Demetrius get into more than one brawl over the women they love.
A Midsummer Night's Dream runs through July 24, 2022, at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington VA. For tickets and information, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.
Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili