ENTER SHAKESPEARE’S FANTASY FOREST
        BONNIE GOLDBERG

    In the forest of Arden, mischief is afoot and Cupid is running amok, with delightfully different consequences in the Hartford Stage’s new production of Will Shakespeare’s classic comedy of romance “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” through Sunday, October 5.  Wild things roam the magical woods and Little Red Riding Hood would have more to fear than the wolf, if she were skipping by on her way to grandmother’s house.
    Romantic triangles become complex geometric shapes as the Bard tangles the heartstrings in this involving tale of fairies and wood sprites and couples who think they are in love but are mistaken and couples who aren’t in love but are destined to be.  Confused yet?  The story spins along out of control once Oberon (David Andrew Macdonald), the King of the Fairies, decides to play a trick on his bride Titania (Johanna Day) and urges his confederate Puck (Francis Jue) to put drops of a flower potion in her eyes while she is sleeping.  When she wakes, she will have a strong and powerful attachment, however unsuitable, for the first person she sees- in this case, a donkey headed dunce named Bottom (Lucas Caleb Rooney).
    Also loose in the dark woods are two sets of lovers from Athens, Hermia (Christina Pumariega) who thinks she loves Lysander (Sanjit De Silva) and Demetrius (Jake Lacy) who claims to adore Hermia too and poor Helena (Susannah Flood) who is gaga over Demetrius.  True love never did run smooth in Shakespeare’s time because Hermia’s father Egeus (Everett Quinton) not only forbids her to marry her choice, but orders her to a nunnery or to death if she disobeys.  No wonder she runs off into the forest, with Lysander in chase, followed quickly by Demetrius and the fair Helena.
    The merry chase continues in this nocturnal soup as the fate of a changeling child is questioned and an amateur acting troupe tries to perform a perfectly ridiculous tale of “Pyramus and Thisbe Meet a Lion.”
The whole dream is set like a disco dance in 1958, with costumes by Ilona Somogyi, scenery by Rachel Hauck, and direction by Lisa Peterson, all imaginatively conceived.
    For tickets ($23-66), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.
    Cupid is armed with love shafts that are tinged with flower power juice and go wildly astray in this heavily physical slapstick world created by the Bard centuries ago.

This review appeared in the Middletown Press on September 25.



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