A marketing company might have taken The Coil Project’s The Changeling Child and instead titled it A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Next Generation. That title better conveys the substance and kitschy charm of a lesser sequel to Shakespeare’s famous comedy now entertaining Capital Fringe audiences.
The Changeling Child refers to Raj (Diego Maramba), the half-fairy / half human son of Oberon (Thomas McGrath) and stepson to Titania (Sarah Holt). Raj is reaching a stage of curiosity about the nearby Athenians, despite warnings from Puck (Erica Smith) that he is to stay in the forest.
Yet there is another questioning son in the story, Pyramus (Michael Reilly), the bookish son of Theseus (Darren Marquardt) and Hippolyta (Emily Morrison). Pyramus is questioning his fate and suitability to someday become the next Duke of Athens. Theseus tasks promising young official Velana (Bridgette Saverine) to teach Pyramus the statecraft, diplomacy, and the military arts, while also hoping that Velana might “tutor” Pyramus in the art of romance. Velana, however, is more interested in the comely Gaitana (Stacey Kruml).
Raj sneaks away to Athens to learn more about his human side just before the start of the Rites of Spring Festival. Love is in the air (and the water, thanks to a love potion) causing some interesting potential couplings. Raj also finds a kindred spirit in Pyramus based upon the fact that their parents just don’t understand them and they are both struggling to stand up for themselves (in storylines with an “Afterschool Special” level of depth).
The Changeling Child
closes July 22, 2017
Details and tickets
The Changeling Child may not be great art, but it contains more than its share of inspired silliness to keep the crowd laughing. Playwright & director Eric Cline has a good feel for the classic humor devices (including innocent young love, randy couples, behavior altering magic, fish out of water confusion, and bawdy uses of a Maypole).
He is also helped by a talented and enthusiastic cast of broad comic actors (including some listed below). While the cast makes it hard to single out particular performances, the passionate older fairy couple played by Thomas McGrath & Sarah Holt and the skillful handling of Velana by Bridgette Saverine stood out.
Cline has enough in-jokes to offer some special treats to Shakespeare fans (e.g., “This one sleeps like a donkey.”) Yet a total stranger to A Midsummer Night’s Dream can also attend The Changeling Child, pick up on the new story easily, and have a very good time. Further, the script incorporates modern language and modern sensibilities, which opens the comedic range of dialogue and romantic possibilities.
A Changeling Child also makes clever use of projections of hand-drawn back drops (designed by Mahnu Davar). In fact, the cast of a dozen is backed by a strong team that skillfully uses lighting, sound effects, and well-designed costumes that amp up this spirited production.
A Fringe diet consisting only of productions like A Changeling Child might not be fully artistically satisfying. However, this production is a tasty treat for fun-loving audiences.
The Changeling Child is written and directed by Eric Cline. Assistant Director: Anindya De. Featuring Rebecca Fischler, Sarah Holt, Stacey Kruml, Diego Maramba, Darren Marquardt, Thomas McGrath, Emily Morrison, Emily Mullin, Michael Reilly, Bridgette Saverine, Michael Silver, and Erica Smith. Stage Manager: Isabel Mahoney. Lighting Designer: Colin Dieck. Sound Designer: Rich Frangiamore. Costume Designer: Victoria Glock-Malloy. Projection Designer: Mahnu Davar. Dance Choreographer: Stacey Kruml. Fight Choreographer: David Dieudonne. Producer: Jenny Oberholtzer. Reviewed by Steven McKnight.