Tuesday March 19 11:00 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Chicago Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is Magical!


Duke Theseus (Edward O’Blenis) of Athens and his fiancée, Hippolyta (Alexandra Silber) are getting ready for their wedding. They are interrupted when Egeus (William Dick) drags his daughter Hermia (Melisa Soledad Pereyra) into court. He’s decided that she will marry Demetrius (Eric Schabla), but she refuses the match because she and Lysander (Tyrone Phillips) are in love.

Egeus, citing an obscure law that would condemn her to death if she won’t marry his choice, demands obedience. When Hermia stands firm, the Duke makes the order, which infuriates Hippolyta. Later, when Helena (Cristina Panfilio) who loves Demetrius – who won’t give her the time of day – overhears Hermia and Lysander planning to run away, she tells Demetrius, thinking she could follow him and seduce him into loving her.

Meanwhile, the Mechanicals – a group of working men – plan to put on a play to honor the Duke. Peter Quince (Joe Dempsey) will direct, while the players are Nick Bottom (T.R. Knight), Francis Flute (Alec Silver), Robin Starveling (Sara Sevigny) and Tom Snout (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis). Bottom, a born ham, is ready to play each part, portraying how he would play them as Quince mentions them. They agree to meet in the forest to rehearse. Knight, who many recognized from his 3-year stint on “Grey’s Anatomy”, was terrific as Bottom, one of the best I’ve seen.

By the way, the costumes are an interesting contrast. At the court, the men are wearing uniforms, while the women wear modern dresses. Soon after Lysander and Hermia, Helena and Demetrius venture into the forest, mischievous fairies strip them of their backpacks, jackets and outer clothing, leaving all four wandering around in their underwear. The mechanicals wear more casual clothes, mostly jeans and khakis. The fairies, on the other hand, had more fanciful costumes, mostly made of leather and feathers.

The scene change from the Duke’s court to the Fairy forest is impressive. The stark white stone wall slowly tilted until it was laying at a 45-degree angle while a huge disk descended from ceiling until it covered the white stone white floor. The wall became the fairies’ playground, with huge, brightly-colored flowers surrounding it, and the fairies came out to dance, led by the First Fairy (Adrienne Storrs).

The King and Queen of the Fairies, Oberon (O’Blenis) and Titania (Silber) are bickering. She has acquired a changeling child which he wants. He demands the changeling, she refuses, and leaves in a huff followed by her fairies, Peaseblossom (Michael Ferraro), Moth (Luke Halpern), Mustardseed (Andrew MacNaughton) and Cobweb (Michael Rawls).

Oberon is furious, so he orders Puck (Sam Kebede) to put the sap of a certain flower on Titania’s eyelids to make her fall in love with the first thing she sees. Since Oberon happened to see Helena pursuing Demetrius, he decided to help her, telling Puck to put the sap on the eyelids of a man wearing Athenian clothing. Puck follows orders, but assumes Lysander is the Athenian.

When the Mechanicals trooped into the woods to rehearse, they were singing “There’s No Business like Show Business”. Puck watched with glee, then lured Bottom away and turned him into an ass. When he wanders back, the other Mechanicals flee in a panic. Puck then leads Bottom toward Titania, who wakes and falls in love with him.

When Lysander awakes, he falls in love with Helena. She is determined to shake him off, but he won’t leave her alone. Hermia can’t understand what’s happening, so she attacks Helena, and they have a hysterically funny physical confrontation and have to be restrained by the men.

By morning, however, Oberon undoes the spells, he and Titania make up, the lovers awake with the correct partner, and everyone has an HEA, entertained by the Mechanicals’ play.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs through January 27th in the Courtyard Theater at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Parking is available at a 40% discount in the Navy Pier Garages with validation from CST.

Running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes, with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:00 and 7:30 pm (through January 16th); Thursdays at 7:30 pm (through January 10th) with an extra 1:00 pm performance on Jan 3rd; Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00 and 6:30 (no 6:30 performance on January 6th & 13th). Accessible performances: Open-captioning – Thursday, January 3rd at 1:00 & 7:30 pm; Audio-description – Sunday, January 13th at 2:00 pm; ASL Duo-interpretation – Friday, January 18th at 7:30 pm. Tickets range from $48-$88. FYI (312) 595-5600 or www.chicagoshakes.com.