A Midsummer Night's Dream | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Midsummer Night's Dream


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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, at ComedySportz. Taking the Summer of Love as her inspiration, adapter-director Steph DeWaegeneer has created a goofy flashback version of Shakespeare's sunniest comedy. In this family-oriented offering, tie-dyed fairy folk bestow literal flower power on mortal lovers, rubbing pansy juice on their slumbering eyelids. And by making Lysander an aimless lad competing with tennis-playing square Demetrius for the hand of Hermia, DeWaegeneer sets up a 60s-era conflict between countercultural and establishment values. Musical director Jeffrey L. Shivar provides an a cappella arrangement of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" for Titania's fairy retinue to sing when the queen and her human-turned-ass lover, Nick Bottom (a fine Paul Pierro), are sent to sleep. And cast members punctuate the set changes from staid Athens to the magical woods with Laugh-In-style groaners. ("Why can't Lysander pick up heavy things?" "Because he has a Hermia.")

DeWaegeneer's modern-English adaptation sacrifices some of the play's best speeches in a way that Gary Griffin's "Short Shakespeare" version for Chicago Shakespeare Theater last summer did not. But there's much to enjoy in this genial, colorful hour-long romp.

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