"Sonho de uma Noite de Verão " - Shakespeare - Direção: Cacá Rosset
Delacorte Theatre -NYC
Review/Theater; Shakespeare as Carnival in Amazonian 'Dream'
Published: August 2, 1991, Friday
With its spells and incantations, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" freely lends itself to directorial invention, as is amply demonstrated in the Brazilian production of the play that opened last night at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. As adapted and staged by Caca Rosset, this is a lithe and fanciful "Dream." Through graceful use of nudity, the production underlines the natural primitivism of the story.
The members of Mr. Rosset's Teatro do Ornitorrinco perform in Portuguese and there is no simultaneous translation. For an English-speaking audience, the Shakespearean language certainly is missed, but the action is easy to follow and there is something to be said for hearing familiar words spoken in a lilting, unfamiliar language. Fortunately, the dialogue is communicated through actors who are vocally and physically expressive.
There have been more magical, metaphorical productions (beginning with Peter Brook's version). Mr. Rosset takes a lighter, less ambitious approach. Clearly he is interested in the comedy as a springboard for entertainment and performance art with a distinct Brazilian tang. The actors are acrobats, jugglers, mimes and even fire-eaters. This robust troupe of variety performers might be equally at home in a circus, but they have a forthright feeling for Shakespeare and for the imagery evoked by the director.
A dance of half-naked nymphs looks like an animated Cezanne. Performed in soft moonlight, the scene casts a glow across the Delacorte. The open-air New York Shakespeare Festival theater has seldom seemed more ethereal than at this moment. There are revels and parades with colorful streamers, music (by Villa-Lobos and Mendelssohn and a Brazilian rap song for Puck), played by an onstage band. Late in the evening there is a scene of aerialist daring as elves swing precariously from perch to perch.
It is certainly an unusual "Dream" when the outstanding performances are given by the fairies (female) and elves (male), and in which cameo roles are added for a strongman and a belly dancer. With its expanded population, the forest kingdom is in fact the dominant element in the production.
The evening is less secure in court, though some of this reaction may be a result of hearing scenes with extended exposition in a foreign language. Jose Rubens Chacha and Christiane Tricerri, doubling in the regal roles, are more persuasive as Oberon and Titania than as Theseus and Hippolyta. Augusto Pompeo is a particularly saucy Puck.
The clowns are led by Tacito Rocha's amusingly instructive Peter Quince. Mr. Rosset himself appears as Bottom, a role he plays with the buffoonery of an American vaudevillian. In an act of modesty, Bottom's love scene with Titania seems to have been shortened, one of a number of reductions in the text. Later there is an episode that can be taken as self-criticism. When the clowns offer to present an epilogue to their mildly funny version of "Pyramus and Thisby," the members of the court rise in unison and shout a loud no.
The passion of the actors helps to transcend language barriers and to speed the performance to its conclusion. Hermia (Elaine Garcia) is treated as a rag doll to be hurled across the stage and Lysander and Demetrius spar in a dashing duel, with each slicing the air under his opponent's feet.
While the spirit of the show is never less than playful, there is a covert, unexplored social message. Perhaps taking a clue from the fact that Titania is the queen of the Amazons, the play is staged in an Amazonian rain forest, but one that has been defoliated by an unspecified calamity. Trees have been reduced to stumps. The scenery is spare and there is only a small pool at the center of the stage to indicate an aspect of an oasis.
Except for the setting, the darker elements of the play do not fall under the director's scrutiny. He is content to present a frolicsome Brazilian carnival, what could be called a Bottom's "Dream," and it is most welcome in its outdoor environment. Sonho de Uma Noite de Verao (A Midsummer Night's Dream) By William Shakespeare; directed, translated and adapted by Caca Rosset; scenery and costumes by Jose De Anchieta Costa; lighting by Peter Kaczorowski; assistant director, Maria Alice Vergueiro; choreography by Val Folly; musical direction by Duca Franca; circus coach, Jose Wilson Leite; gymnastic coach, Regina Oliveira; fencing coaches, Peter Gidali and Erwin Leibl; skating coach, Luciano Marcelo Coutinho; Festival Latino directors, Oscar Ciccone and Cecilia Vega; associate producer, Jason Steven Cohen. Teatro do Ornitorrinco presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, producer, in association with New York Telephone. At the Delacorte Theater, enter at 81st Street and Central Park West or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue. Theseus and Oberon . . . Jose Rubens Chacha Hippolyta and Titania . . . Christiane Tricerri Hermia . . . Elaine Garcia Lysander . . . Rubens Caribe Demetrius . . . Richard Homuth Helena . . . Carolina N. Riberiro Nick Bottom and Pyramus . . . Caca Rosset Francis Flute and Thisby . . . Ary Franca Puck . . . Augusto Pompeo