Is there a better show for Shakespeare in the park, sitting in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre outside under the stars and watching all the magic and mayhem unfold as A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM? The show is bright, funny, and isn’t afraid to underscore its magical whimsy with the consequences that send everyone running into the forest to begin in the first place. A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM is playing at The Old Globe through September 3rd.
It opens with a battle, as Theseus, the Duke of Athens (Brett Cassidy) witnesses the fierce Amazonian warrior Hippolyta (Camilla Leonard) single-handedly win a battle he promptly proposes to her. As they plan their nuptial celebration other potential couples come forward asking for their permission and blessing to wed. Hermia (Jamie Ann Romero) is brought forth by her father Egeus (Victor Morris) because she refuses to wed Demetrius (Jeffrey Rashad) the suitor Egeus has approved. Hermia is instead in love with Lysander (Bernadette Sefic), all while their friend Helena (Celeste Arias) pines dramatically for Demetrius.
When these couples end up running around the forest outside of the kingdom, they find themselves impacted by an ongoing war between the fairy king Oberon (Paul James) and his Queen Tatiana (Karen Aldridge). The couples get caught up when Oberon’s servant, the mischievous sprite Puck (Christopher Michael Rivera) makes the mistake because all humans really look alike to a fairy.
Meanwhile, an acting troupe has also gone into the forest to rehearse their play “Pyramus and Thisbe” for the royal wedding celebration, and the lead actor Bottom (Jake Millgard) finds himself transformed and in the arms of the fairy queen.
Standout performers include James and Alderidge as the fairy power couple Oberon and Tatiana, and Rivera as the mischievous Puck. Romero is very funny as Hermia and matches up against Arias as Helena in a very funny second-act confrontation. Sefic and Rashad are also very funny as their characters react to that confrontation. Cassidy as Thesus is very funny as the theatre-loving Duke, and Millgard is delightful as the overconfident Bottom.
Directed by Patricia McGregor the play is fast-moving, colorful, and fun. With high energy, unexpected nods to theatre, and music, and an electric dynamic set and costume design, the show is fizzy and fun. Like a theatrical version of Pop Rocks, you never know what might pop in next, but you’re excited to see what happens.
The scenic design and costumes by scenic and costume designer David Israel Reynoso are eye-popping, in color and design. They work together beautifully, especially once the Oberon and Tatiana come to stage with their entourages. The neon, colors and textures highlight that they are not of the same world as the mortals who find themselves in the forest.
The play has been trimmed to around two hours, so the plot moves quickly. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to absorb the underlying danger that set the couple’s journey into the forest in motion, but the audience is having too much fun to really care.
How To Get Tickets
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is playing at The Old Globe through September 3rd. For ticket information, you can go to http://www.cygnettheatre.com
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