Theseus can't seem to get a break. All he wants to do is marry Hippolyta, but first he must deal with a couple of guys wanting to marry the same girl (and the girl's dad being inordinately stubborn about it), and then three widowed queens show up begging him to rescue their husbands' bodies from the fields of Thebes. Whenever Theseus and Hippolyta go hunting in the nearby woods, they come across the four mired Athenian youths sleeping together on the ground or two noble knights fighting over Hippolyta's sister.
Theseus, Hippolyta, and weird goings on in the Athenian woods are the common elements of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Noble Kinsmen that he wrote with John Fletcher, but that's enough for Brave Spirits in Washington, D.C., to stage the plays in repertory Nov. 14–Dec. 7 at the Anacostia Arts Center.
This is not the first time a repertory of these two plays has been staged: the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, for one, staged the two plays together in its 1985 season, but this is the first time this young company has taken on either play. In the Shakespeare-rich theater world of the Capital Region, Brave Spirits scored critical successes with its productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is directed by Jessica Aimone, fresh off of Pinky Swear Productions' hit Tiny House Plays. Aimone last tackled Shakespeare in the sold-out 2011 Capital Fringe hit Macbeth, produced by Push/Pull Theater Company. Brave Spirit Artistic Director Charlene V. Smith will helm The Two Noble Kinsmen; she directed the company's Richard III in 2012 and played Juliet in last year's Romeo and Juliet.
A troupe of 13 actors drawn from across the region and experienced in performing Shakespeare with the Folger Theatre, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Taffety Punk, and Baltimore Shakespeare Factory will comprise both casts. Ian Blackwell Rogers and Jacqueline Chenault will play Theseus and Hippolyta, respectively, in both plays, plus double as Oberon and Titania in Dream. Rogers is a Brave Spirits vet (Two Gents and Richard III), as is Jenna Berk (Richard III) who is cast as Snug in Dream and the Jailer's Daughter in Kinsmen.
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Noble Kinsmen will perform Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. The Anacostia Arts Center (www.anacostiaartscenter.com) is located at 1231 Good Hope Rd, SE, Washington, D.C. 20020. Tickets are $20 each with combination tickets for both plays on Saturdays and Sundays available for $30. For tickets, visit www.ticketriver.com/event/12758.
November 5, 2014