A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Darko Tresnjak is a master magician, especially when it comes to interpreting the plays of William Shakespeare in a distinct and amazing manner. Look no further than his current iteration of the Bard’s playful comedy “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” that focuses on a gate house, beautifully designed by Alexander Dodge, that is prim and proper on one side and revolves to reveal an ivy-clad entrance into the woods of Arden, slightly uncivilized and ready for the unknown. Dash over to Hartford Stage until Sunday,October 8 for this romp in the forests that is refreshingly novel and full of mischief thanks to that Cupid-like character Puck, here a fun seeking Will Apicella. .

To Shakespeare, if one pair of star-crossed lovers is good than two pair must be great. That is the comic premise on which his beloved “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” is based. Lysander and Hermia are in love but Demetrius has been hand picked by Hermia’s father to be her mate. Meanwhile poor Helena is pining away for want of Demetrius. The Duke, exhibiting his tyrannical power over the citizens of Athens, makes Hermia’s decision easier by decreeing she can either marry Demetrius as her father wishes or enter a nunnery or die. What are these young school children to do? But don’t be scared, for this is a comedy.

Hermia (Jenny Leona) and Lysander (Tom Pecinka) decide to run away into the enchanted forest to escape their fate and, of course, Helena (Fedna Laure Jacquet) and Demetrius (Damian Jermaine Thompson) follow quickly in their footsteps. The forest is filled with whimsical creatures, ruled by Oberon (Esau Pritchett) and his queen Titania (Scarlett Strallen) who are experiencing love problems of their own. To teach Titania a lesson, Oberon has his chief elf Puck (Will Apicella) play a mischievous Cupid and drop love potion drops into her eyes and those of the citizens of Athens who are running around in circles in his woods.

The potion causes one to fall in love with whomever one sees upon awakening, which for unlucky Titania turns out to be Nick Bottom (John Lavelle), part of a roving acting troupe, who has been turned into a donkey, long ears, tail and all. For Lysander, the potion of flowers causes his sudden adoration of a most confused Helena. It also causes Demetrius to now pursue Hermia. You may need a scorecard to keep everyone straight. This production, directed by Darko Tresnjak, is filled with magic and mischief, a frenzy of lunatics, lovers and poets, thanks to the Bard.

As a play within a play, the itinerant actors perform a dramatic tale for the wedded couples that is a masterpiece in its ineptitude. Termed the mechanicals, the eager group includes Robert Hannon Davis, Matthew Macca, Alexander Sovronsky, Brent Bateman and Louis Tucci, in addition to the aforementioned Nick Bottom.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

If you were caught in the web of an arranged marriage, you too might take flight into the woods and like Lysander bemoan the fact that “the course of true love never did run smooth.”