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Published: Oct 21 2013, 01:01:am

Monday, October 21, 2013

    At this point, it's more than certain that someone — I'm guessing several someones — has written a PhD thesis on how the non-statutory Hallowe'en holiday grew into a week-long celebration of the autumnal and/or macabre. Setting the tone nicely, Studio 58, the theatre company that is the public face of the performing arts program at Vancouver's Langara College, offered a re-imagined A Midsummer Night's Dream, relocating the action to the Carpathian mountains.

    The brainchild of actor/director Scott Bellis, it ran from Sep. 26 to Oct. 20, and crossed Shakespeare with Bram Stoker. In it, the fairie Queen Titania (Anthea Morritt) was attended by vampire maidens, while Oberon (Dominic Duchesne) was followed by zombie retainers.

    Because theatre schools are about evenly divided between male and female students, three of the play's rude mechanicals — Snug, Starveling and Snout — were played by young women (Erica Hoeksema, Julie Leung, Madhushani Ramaraju). The director made use of this to introduce a bit of a bardic crossover — this trio turned out to be the weird sisters from Macbeth, which added witches to the mix.

With the exception of Erik Gow's Bottom (the role Bellis played in the 2006 Bard on the Beach production), the production's standout performers were all female. Lili Beaudoin's Puck (memorably played by Bellis in Bard on the Beach's 1991 production) brought a remarkable gymnastic ability to the part. Lauren Jackson had a fine fire as Hermia, while Siona Gareau-Brennan's Helena stole every scene she was in.

    The Langara students were very good (and endlessly energetic),     putting on a show with music, dancing and seasonal bite. At the end of the day, though, they are still apprentice performers. I'd love to see Bellis's deliciously dark reading mounted by a professional company of seasoned Shakespeareans. It's that much fun.

    So, now we're in the Hallowe'en mood. Reeling Back can hardly ignore it, and goodness knows there's no shortage of films to recall at the appropriate time.

    But first, there is the matter of Tuesday's Cuban Missile Crisis anniversary and the three new Crisis-related postings that will show up tomorrow. Then, perhaps Thursday, we'll have something about Greenpeace, just to put a little perspective on the organization's current problems in the Russian courts. And we should do something on Sunday to celebrate producer/director Ivan Reitman's 67th birthday.

    Yes, we've much to do before All Hallow's Eve.