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Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream



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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fast, broad, loud and spirited. That sums up this small local production, which features community actors and a few students, outdoors in Sacramento’s William Land Park.

This popular Shakespeare story follows four couples who commence feuding, simultaneously. The collateral damage messes up friendships, too, like former soul sisters Helena and Hermia, who start insulting each other because one is tall, and the other isn’t.
 
(play excerpt)
 
Now over the years I’ve reviewed dozens of productions of this play, and I thought I’d seen just about every possible variation. But David Harris, who directed this show, has come up with a genuinely fresh angle.

He’s set the play in the 1890s, and turned the forest spirits into drinkers of absinthe . . . the green herbal liquor thought to be hallucinogenic by European intellectuals of that age. They nicknamed absinthe “The Green Fairy,” and in this show the Fairy Queen wears green from head to toe, and does a slinky dance with a green goblet of you-know-what.

The concept works, because Shakespeare’s script is full of mind-altering herbal substances. It’s a clever twist on this popular, audience-pleasing comedy.

This isn’t the fanciest or most opulent production, but it isenjoyable, and close to home.

The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” alternates with “Othello” on weekends through July 31th.
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