Ill Met By Moonlight | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Ill Met By Moonlight

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ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, Striding Lion InterArts Workshop, at the Viaduct Theater. The less Striding Lion deals with the text of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream the better. Adapted by the ensemble, directed by artistic director Amanda Berg Wilson, and choreographed by artistic director Annie Arnoult Beserra, the piece shines during its sinuous dance segments and athletic fight sequences.

This version opens with a lovely, mournful danced prelude depicting both the birth of the changeling boy who's the source of the quarrel between Titania (Wilson) and Oberon (Colby Beserra) and the death of his mother--one of Titania's fairies--in childbirth. This sequence gives the play's theme of the transformations wrought by love an unexpected emotional jolt and allows us to see why the custody battle carries such freight for Titania. Here the woodland sprites are feral folk whose idea of music as guttural and cacophonous is at odds with the Latin-inflected percussive pop-rock of the rude mechanicals' garage band--Colby Beserra and Matt Reed provide the admirable music direction. Allison Kurtz's Puck and Beserra's Oberon have some funny rock-god moments, and though the Pyramus and Thisbe playlet goes on too long, it gets in some sly digs at Andrew Lloyd Webber's melodramatic puffery.

The text usually turns to mush in the performers' mouths, however. Among the four lovers, only Lacy Coil as Helena comes close to capturing the subtleties and rhythms of Shakespeare's verse.

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