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Billy Samoa Saleebey
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Guido De Craene,
Not for purists---but provocative, interesting Shakespeare nevertheless
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S RAVE, by the estimable Gil Cates, Jr., is an interesting, original, provocative take on Shakespeare's timeless A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM-all the more so because Cates (who is a director to watch for in the future) has the effrontery to keep but the barest skeleton of the original plot--i.e.,two sets of mismatched couples-Oberon and Titania-Bottom and the "players"----all the while deciding to take it in more daring, unexpected directions than the Immortal Bard ever intended. While previous versions---(Brook's, Branagh's, etc.) stressed the pastoral, dark aspects of the play--along with keeping the fates of the characters exactly as Shakespeare wrote it--Cates decides to add homosexuality and a scary-yet-funny drug dealer to the mix! Plus, Elena--("Helena" in the play)--ends up doing something totally different than the play! (No equivalents of Theseus and Hyppolita, for that matter).
Truly, this movie is not for purists. Yet the cinematography is great, the decor and setting are funky-love the van Nick and his friends drive!-the music fits the spirit and setting (a rave) the actors are good-looking and fresh--I especially enjoyed Chad Lindberg as the "Bottom" character-(goofy Nick, who goes comically, spectacularly off-the-wall after ingesting some of Puck's "love potion") and Nichole Hiltz as the "Titania" character, Britt---their "fate" is charmingly quite different than the play and is particularly satisfying to those of us who think they make a great romantic "couple." I also enjoyed Jason Carter as the devious, poetry-spouting O.B. John, and Lauren German as the quirky, pixie-like Elena.
Andrew Keegan and Sunny Mawbrey are also interesting as well, and make a great couple, the rough equivalent of "Lysander and Hermia" in the play. The "Puck" character (a witty Glen Badyna), though, to be honest, is barely there and is not really involved that much in the action like he was in the play. Some of the other actors in the movie are little more than filler, as well.
Not everybody will quite take to the casual drug use---but if one is willing to stick with the movie one will realize that the drug subplot helps make one of the points of the movie---these young people have been trying to drown their concerns and desires in drugs and hedonistic partying--instead of confronting these concerns and desires head on and be themselves. They realize that one does not need to use drugs to feel happiness and love. Ultimately honesty and love are the greatest drugs of all. The dialogue between Andrew Keegan (Xander) and Sunny Mawbrey (Mia) perfectly illustrates this.
Not a lot of plot---and ultimately, not for all tastes---but if one is in "vibe" with the spirit of the movie--and is interested in the phenomenon of raves---this is a must see!
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