Arts Alive: Cappies Review of A Midsummer Night's Dream at South Lakes High School

By Communications and Community Relations Staff
January 20, 2020

Fairfax County Public Schools students are talented actors, musicians, and visual artists. Many FCPS high schools participate in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre, otherwise known as the Cappies.

The Cappies is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. There are fifteen Cappies chapters across the United States and Canada. 

Editor's Note: This review of South Lakes High School's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is written by Joshua Mutterperl of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. 

Mischievous woodland spirits, a dynamic love quadrangle, and the Louisiana Bayou?! South Lakes High School proudly presents a refreshing and hilarious rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The comedy, written by William Shakespeare circa 1596, establishes three distinct worlds: those of the confused lovers, a ragtag acting troupe, and mysterious fairies. He then sets them all on a crash course for each other, driving the story in utterly unexpected directions. In this production, while keeping true to the Shakespearean language, the costumes, set, and other technical and performance elements collaborated to place this play right in the middle of the Louisiana Bayou.

The four central Athenians, Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander (played by Serena Mandala-Kol, Farrah Greeves, Kiran Drew, and Noah Rice, respectively), interacted in engaging and expressive ways. They clearly communicated each character's opinion of the others and their understanding of the language, despite its complexity. In particular, Greeves showed superb commitment to the melodramatic Helena, never failing to draw a laugh from the audience whether clinging to Demetrius or mocking Hermia in a childish manner.

The troupe of actors, also known as The Mechanicals, were thoroughly entertaining in every second of their time onstage. Their consistent reactions to the events onstage and ability to perform energy-packed scenes created some of the funniest moments of the show, particularly during the "play within a play" they put on at the end of Act 2. Standing out from this already talented crowd was Ennis Shabab as Nick Bottom, who displayed a keen ability to inject every line with humor, from his glee for meeting fairies with unconventional names to Bottom's histrionic and memorable performance as Pyramus in the troupe's play.

Several members of the Fairy World added even more comedic moments to the already uproarious show. Aaron MacDonald utilized booming vocals and an exasperated demeanor to deliver a surprisingly funny interpretation of King Oberon. Also, Keaton Lazar and Emilia Cayelli as Puck and Robin Goodfellow (typically the same character, but split in two for this production) performed several physical gags in perfect synchronization.

The technicians worked incredibly hard to transport the audience to a mystical world, where anything was possible, and they were certainly successful!

Lighting (designed by Kendra Griessel, Hannah Berger, and Caleb Correllus) used consistent color palettes, namely vibrant greens and blues, to give the woods an otherworldly feel. Lights were used to seamlessly draw focus around the stage. Additionally, as a testament to the stage crew (Jacob Ham, Kieran Stevens, and Catrina Grant), transitions between scenes were quick and efficient.

The Fairy Costumes (designed by Hannah Donis, Maya Berry, Mikayla Kirr, and the Midsummer Fairies) created a gorgeous ethereal atmosphere, especially with the lights each fairy had on their hands, which were utilized in tantalizing movement sequences.

A highlight of the show was the makeup done by the Midsummer Makeup Crew and Emilia Cayelli, which clearly sorted characters into different groups based on their physical appearances. The makeup on Puck and Robin Goodfellow was particularly eye-catching, as the top half of their faces were made to look like skulls.

With the help of very strong comedic performers and excellent world-building by the technical departments, South Lakes High School's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is like a visit from a fairy: bound to make you fall in love.

Subscribe to the 2019-20 FCPS Theater Calendar

Do you love watching high school theater? If so, check out the Fine and Performing Arts calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many middle and high school theater events are listed through June 2020. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media. See the Fine and Performing Arts calendar