It”s 1930 in New York, and there is love in the air. As a matter of fact, there is a whole lot of love. But with this love, comes quite a conflict. This weekend, get ready for the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre”s version of the oldest, sassiest love triangle around, “A Midsummer Night”s Dream.”
The story goes a little something like this: Oberon and Titania are in a scuffle: Titania has a young Indian boy, and Oberon wants him. Meanwhile, Hermia and Lysander are in love, but are forbidden to marry. Hermia must marry another man, Demetrius, or she will be killed. In desperation, Hermia and Lysander escape into the woods.
Although Shakespeare set his stage in Athens, the Ann Arbor Civic theatre”s stage becomes Central Park in the middle of New York City. The characters are dressed in 1930s style, and the lovers are swingkids. A few of the characters have thick accents, adding more of the New York flavor into the mix.
Besides these additions, the audience also gets to experience Native American art and dance. In Central Park, there are many dreamy, mystical scenes in which Oberon and Titania”s friends wear Indian masks and perform Indian dances.
The play takes a comical turn when Demetrius, who loves Hermia, and Helena, who loves Demetrius, follow Hermia and Lysander into the woods. Throughout the play, Helena makes herself one of the major laughable characters. She is completely over the top with her love for Demetrius she begs for his affection, and confesses that the meaner he is to her, the more she will love and obsess over him.
Another highlight of the show is the player, Bottom. During rehearsal for the play within a play, Bottom wants to be given several roles. He is such a ham that he completely takes the limelight when he is onstage.
This version of “A Midsummer Night”s Dream” takes the theme of nature and meshes it with the theme of love. Because of this, the audience feels taken in by the beautiful and innocent side of love.
The mix of the characters, the comedy techniques and the New York swing era setting make the Civic Theatre”s production a hilarious, magical experience.
Yet after it is all over, go ahead and ask yourself: Was this all just a dream?