Some people hear the word Shakespeare and are already falling asleep. Others can’t wait to get out the door to devour their theater porn. But, I think we can all agree that Shakespeare can be taxing, dense and hard to follow. Not with the the Denver Center Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (a part of the Shakespeare for a New Generation, a program that’s part of the National Endowment for the Arts). To be frank, this production is contemporary (but still in Shakespeare-speak with the story that you came to see) and downright hysterical. I mean, I know this baby’s a Shakespearean comedy, but I’ve never laughed so hard at Shakespeare.
If you don’t know the story (because you received a poor middle or high school education…I mean, really. Who doesn’t know the story?), here’s the deal–Puck is a creepy, horned thing, but also endearing and meddling, and he stirs up some drama in an Athenian town when his boss-man, Oberon, a mystical fairy-king type (played by John Hutton who is always enjoyable to watch), wants to tease his love-interest, the fairy queen Titania (played by Kathleen McCall). So, Oberon sends Puck to fetch him a a flower that makes a person fall in love with the next thing they see–he wants to play a prank Titania by making her falling in love with something awful (like a bear or, in her case, a man with an ass’s head). P.S. Mortals can’t see Oberon, Tatiana or Puck. While plotting this little joke, Oberon spies a pair of Athens youth in which the girl–Helena–has unrequited love for the boy–Demetrius. Demetrius loves Hermia, who loves Lysander, and Lysander returns Hermia’s favor. Oberon simply wants to charm Demetrius into loving Helena and send the young lovers to mortal bliss, but when Puck gets involved, everything goes array.You follow?
As a side plot, a band of local men are practicing a play in hopes of performing it at the duke’s wedding. Lawrence Hecht is stellar as the tortured artist of the bunch, Thesus. When he hits the stage, he takes it.
Other highlights include a ridiculous, LOL throw down between Hermia (Caitlin Wise) and Helena (Allison Pistorius), some audience interaction with Puck and the actual play within a play the laborers perform at the Duke’s wedding–a scene that has audiences belly-laughing so hard, it’s difficult to catch all of the perfectly timed one-liners. If you don’t make it before curtain call but can slide in after the intermission, that scene alone is worth the wait.
Tickets start at $10 and the show plays through February 26th. Click here for tickets.