Review: Shakespeare In Hollywood (Amicus Productions)

Photo of Kristine MacDonald and Chris Coluluzzi in Shakespeare in Hollywood by Dave FitzpatricA fourth wall breaking twist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Papermill Theatre in Toronto

Shakespeare In Hollywood, currently at The Papermill Theatre, was a fun night of theatre with misdirection, farce, and folly played to their strengths. I was one of a packed house that seemed to enjoy how Amicus Productions presented Ken Ludwig’s story, as there were smiles and laughs throughout the theatre on Thursday night before, during, and after the performance.

The show finds fairies Oberon and Puck, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on the 1935 Hollywood set during the production for the film version of the play. It is definitely a surreal journey for the pair as, at first, they think they are transported back to their familiar home, only to find they are, in fact, in another realm where a different type of “magic” prevails, the magic of motion pictures.

Chris Coculuzzi as Oberon and Kristine MacDonald as Puck, played well together and hit their marks with comedic charm. Coculuzzi was a standout of the night making mash of quick runs of dialogue that would have tripped up a lesser performer.

Melissa Verwey, as Lydia Lansing, was darling and hilarious. She definitely encapsulated “the vamp” archetype of the character and all of the aspects that go along with it. Also of note was Daryn DeWalt as Max Reinhardt. With a simple glance at the audience we knew exactly what DeWalt was thinking and feeling.

Matthew Taylor was the chameleon of the night playing three characters: Jack Warner’s brother Sam, Jimmy Cagney, and a waiter. His subtle ability to give each character depth was enjoyable as I felt it was one of the elements that could be easily overlooked in a show with so many moving parts.

What I also enjoyed were the quick transitions of scenes and how there was a breaking of the fourth wall at key times. In addition, presenting Ludwig’s comically layered script was no easy feat I’m sure, and everyone involved with the production deserves a tip of the hat for not missing any obvious beats.

This was my first experience at The Papermill Theatre, located in the heart of the urban forest of the Don Valley on Pottery Road. Surrounded by the burgeoning spring foliage, I enjoyed the walk down to the theatre. I also took in the art gallery in the atrium before entering the house. It was definitely a great set up to get one into the artistic frame of mind.

Overall, with the show, the art, and the walk it was a great night and I look forward to what is coming next for Amicus Productions as they are preparing to launch their next, and 38th, season of shows. If you can’t make it to their final performance of Shakespeare in Hollywood, do give their new shows consideration.


  • Shakespeare In Hollywood is playing until May 7, 2016 at The Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery Rd.)
  • Shows run Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2pm on May 1st, and an additional matinee at 2pm on May 7th
  • Ticket prices are $22, and $20 for seniors/students and can be purchased online or through the box office at (416) 860-6176

Photo of Kristine MacDonald and Chris Coluluzzi by Dave Fitzpatrick