Rich with comic flourishes, Gary Griffin's 80-minute family-friendly condensation of Shakespeare's pastoral mating ritual for classical heroes, feuding fairies, and foolish mortals is surprisingly streetwise. Happily, Griffin's cuts don't cut deeply, and the shtick he's added serves the characters and story well. Jason Denuszek's punk Puck bursts into infectious rap while Felicia Fields as the "wall" belts the blues, paying tribute to lonely partitions everywhere. Clever bits abound: Oberon beeps Puck to make him haul ass. Puck takes a snapshot to prove that Titania once loved a barnyard creature and uses a remote control to manipulate the mismatched lovers. Helena and Hermia carry color-coordinated luggage. Oberon wears a long skirt comprised of ugly ties. The fairies are fewer but sensuous (without being sexual), while the lovers' acrobatics are in perfect sync with their tortured dialogue. This dream Dream--as much a perfect introduction to the high-stakes make-believe of professional theater as to the comedy--rocks with charm-heavy performances: Denuszek's boogie-mad Puck, Bradley Mott's top-notch Bottom, Mike Nussbaum's plaintive Peter Quince, Lamar Lewis's stagestruck Thisbe, Lisa Dodson's good-natured Titania, and Jack Sewell Jordan's mercurial Oberon. A postshow discussion allows kids to see that the actors are not their characters--which seemed to disappoint some of the younger set. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600. Through August 17: Wednesdays, 11 AM; Thursdays, 2 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 11 AM. $15; $10 for children.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.