Were the World Mine (SPEAKproductions, NR)

film_were-the-world-mine.jpgWere the World Mine focuses on the attempts of unhappy adolescent Timothy (Tanner Cohen) to negotiate his way through an all-male prep school.








People like to talk about the magic of theater, but what if it were really true? That’s the premise behind Were the World Mine: the magic potion which Puck uses to make Titania fall in love with Bottom, donkey’s head and all, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream has the same effect on real people outside the play. Once splashed with the magic potion, they fall madly in love with the next person they see, without regard to decorum, appropriateness, or previous sexual preference.

Were the World Mine focuses on the attempts of unhappy adolescent Timothy (Tanner Cohen) to negotiate his way through an all-male prep school. The other boys pick on him because he’s gay, his divorced mom (Judy McLane) disapproves of him, and he has an unrequited crush on the school’s star rugby player, Jonathan (Nathaniel David Becker). Timothy’s main pleasure in life is hanging out with his indie friends Max (Ricky Goldman) and Frankie (Zelda Williams, Robin’s daughter): the latter describes herself as "heteroflexible" as in "I’m straight, but accidents happen."

Timothy’s salvation comes through the senior class production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted into a musical by the sympathetic and somewhat mysterious English teacher Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie). She casts him as Puck and he goes to work inventing a real love potion which he tries out first on Max, then on Jonathan. Both fall immediately and absolutely into sweet puppyish love with Timothy. Emboldened by this success, Timothy applies the potion to various classmates and townspeople, spawning some fairly hilarious crushes: the homophobic rugby coach (Christian Stolte) finds himself smitten with the married Dr. Bellinger (David Darlow), while his wife (Jill Larson, from All My Children) has the hots for Timothy’s mom, and the boys who used to harass Timothy for his perceived gayness are now more occupied with getting each other’s clothes off.

It’s a great comic scenario for a few days, but as Ms. Tebbit says, "free will must be restored." Timothy sets things right and people sort themselves back out, but changed for the better: apparently a few days of walking in someone else’s shoes does improve the understanding.

The musical numbers by Jessica Fogle vary in quality, but the best are inspired. Choreography by Todd Underwood is appealing demented, with particularly high marks for his setting of the title tune: it incorporates the rugby team cast doing their best imitation of Busby Berkeley chorines, with some Esther Williams water nymph moves thrown in as well. The rest of the technical elements, including cinematography by Kira Kelly and costume design by Elizabeth Wislar, and art direction by Vanessa Conway, do an excellent job supporting the story’s many shifts in tone and clearly differentiate between everyday life, fantasy, and the stage performances.

All in all, Were the World Mine is a charming picture with a very simple message: be who you are, let others be who they are, and we can all be happy. In fact, we might even be fabulous. | Sarah Boslaugh

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