LGBTQ+ reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream met with standing ovation on last night of show

Love was in the air at Academic Hall from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, with Taboo! Productions’ rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The venue was packed on the last night of the show’s run and, despite a few hiccups, the cast was met with a standing ovation.

While the Shakespearean classic already has a built-in audience, this local production provided a slight tweak to the story and staging to help it better connect with modern audiences.

The story is set just outside Athens and follows the journey of four forlorn lovers who experience a mix up in the woods at the hands of Puck, a faithful servant of the Fairy King Oberon and his Queen Titania.

However, Taboo! Productions revamped the age-old comedy with an LGBTQ+ twist and gender bending elements.

“One of the mandates of the company actually is that we want to put on shows that reflect issues in a contemporary society,” said Troy Arsenian, a University of Ottawa alumnus and founder of Taboo! Productions. “It’s very important that we don’t put it on the same way it was done 400 years ago because we are a different society now.”

This production also featured the use of modern technology and choreography, with some characters dabbing during their dance routines and shouting out lines like “There’s an app for that!” amongst the standard iambic pentameter.

Even though Taboo! is a young company, with A Midsummer Night’s Dream serving as their first official production, the final product didn’t come off as an amateurish effort.

The talented vocals, modern costume design, minimalist set, and clever staging gave the show an enchanting feel, and the live orchestral music composed by U of O music student Mathieu Roy delighted the audience.

But the best part about the production was how seamlessly the LGBTQ+ theme fit in with the century old narrative. Despite the physical comedy and fourth wall breaks, this version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream toted a serious message.

“One of the things I really did not want to do was perpetuate stereotypes,” said Arsenian, very much aware of the fact that Helena, who was played by a male actor and meant to be male in the production is not a typically male name.”Even though this is a comedic play, that’s not the joke. And I wanted that to be very important, that that’s not what we’re joking about, this is a very actual real thing that needs to be talked about.”

Courtney Roy, a theatre student who played the part of Peaseblossom, agrees with that sentiment wholeheartedly.

“It’s incredibly important that people be witness to all the types of relationships that exist. We need to really step away from this view that only heterosexual relationships are what should be on stage,” she explained.”

Roy summed up the main point of the play by saying, “just with everything that’s happening in the world, I think we need strong voices, and the arts are a great outlet for that to say that it’s okay to be who you are … and to love who you love.”

For information regarding Taboo! Productions upcoming shows you can find them on Facebook, or check out their official website.