Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Public Theater – Delacorte Theater in Central Park

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Delacorte

By Jonathan Spira on 31 July 2017
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Central Park in New York City recently became more like the enchanted forest with the addition of the Public Theater’s second Shakespeare in the Park romantic comedy offering of the summer, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Befitting a play with a cast of fairies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” appears in disparate guise and form each time it is produced. Directors emphasize various aspects of the plot, making for a dramatically different experience for theatergoers.

Unlike the Public’s recent production of “Julius Caesar,” which was reinterpreted for the Trump era, “Midsummer,” directed by Lear deBessonet, goes in the opposite direction and is neither modern nor set in ancient Greece but rather, based on the mixture of costumes from different periods, seems to be on its very own timeline.

In Shakespeare’s time, “Midsummer” was presented in daylight on a simple stage with little if any scenery, allowing the audience to focus on the rich dialogue. It evolved over the centuries, becoming the basis of Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” opera and it continues to be a vehicle that can be staged to emphasize the variety of themes within.

This particular production, however, continues on its very own trajectory making excellent use of the various talents that the superb cast brings to the Delacorte’s stage.

First, there’s Puck, played so puckishly by Tony nominee Kristine Nielsen. Also known to some as Robin Goodfellow, Shakespeare introduces Puck as a “shrewd and knavish sprite,” a self-described “merry wanderer of the night.”

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