Monday, June 19, 2006

Backyard Drama: The Texas Rep has a Hit with Midsummer Night's Dream

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The Texas Repertory Theatre Co., Houston’s newest theater endeavor, is nestled in a little strip center in the sleepy northwest suburb of Spring, Texas. Obviously, the area needs a heavy dose of Shakespeare and The Tex Rep is eager to provide it in their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show, directed by Jerry Winters (New Jersey Shakespeare Festival), is sexy enough to wake up the whole neighborhood out of their recliners. An earthiness, combined with an attention to the more primitive animal urges of love, made for an uber-sensual Shakespeare experience. Winters was careful to let the musical language rule, with just enough bells and whistles to evoke the supernatural feel of the play without dominating it. Jackie Coleman’s keen attention to movement kept the play flowing and ramped up the madcap comedy. Scenic designer Jesse Dreikosen made perfect use of the compact stage by creating two worlds in one; an austere and ordered Athens and an unruly, exotic forest.

The excellent cast made for a terrific evening of theater. Jennifer Gilbert portrayed Puck with a jazzy flare. With her red hair and slinky moves, she slithered about the forest creating mayhem at every opportunity. Her hyper-caffinated buzziness contrasted perfectly with the languid slow-motion sequences. Don Hampton, a dead ringer for Tommie Lee Jones, nailed a stoic rendition of Theseus and a controlling, but amused-by-the-antics-around-him, Oberon. Steven Fenley’s Bottom, the Weaver, took over the top to a new level. As the ego-inflated “bad actor,” Fenley nailed Bottom’s utter cluelessness in the talent department. Ryan Heitzman, Dave Maldonado, Lyndsay Sweeney, and Mike Sims played the rag-tag troupe of supremely ungifted thespians with great spunk. Jason Richards (Lysander) and Tristan Colton’s (Demetrius) drunk frat boy in love act kept the audience in hysterics. Kay Ann Allmand (Hermia) was suitably innocent while Jessica Ires Morris (Helena) was a hoot as the wallflower who suddenly becomes the prom queen.

Batting three for three in their inaugural season, let’s just hope the neighborhood wakes up to see the new kid on the drama block.

Forever Plaid, the last play of the season, runs through July 1. Call 281-583-7573 or visit