Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Midsommer Flight)

| August 19, 2012
(left to right) Jeannie Saracino as Puck and Jared Dennis as Oberon, in Midsommer Flight's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, directed by Beth Wolf. (photo credit: Claire Monson)        
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed by Beth Wolf
at Touhy Park, 7348 N. Paulina (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tickets: FREE   |  more info 
        Read entire review


‘Dream’ an end of summer treat


(left to right) Ken Miller as Demetrius, Annie Hogan as Helena, and Adam Habben as Lysander, in Midsommer Flight's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, directed by Beth Wolf. (photo credit: Claire Monson)

Midsommer Flight presents
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Review by Lauren Whalen 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s beauty lies in its versatility. Shakespeare’s comic ode to lust – mortal and otherwise – can be staged with unlimited resources or on the skinniest of a shoestring. The bright new company Midsommer Flight does the latter by putting up Dream in a Northside park, with only a few trees, natural early evening light and the most basic of costumes. And thanks to Beth Wolf’s sure direction of a flexible, mirthful ensemble, it’s a fantastic debut production.

Dream features three interlocking plots: Lysander (Adam Habben) loves Hermia (Anne Korajczyk), but so does Demetrius (Ken Miller), much to the chagrin of Helena (Annie Hogan). Meanwhile, Peter Quince (Ross Patrick Frawley) leads a rogue band of enthusiastic actors to stage “Pyramus and Thisbe” for betrothed royals Theseus (Jared Dennis) and Hippolyta (Caroline Kingsley). And in the surrounding forest, fairy king Oberon (Jared Dennis) conspires with mischievous Puck (Jeannie Saracino) to trick fairy queen Titania (Caroline Kingsley), and bewitch the foolish mortals who convene, love and rehearse in the wild.

(left to right) J. Preddie Predmore as Bottom (Pyramus) and Adrian Garcia, Jr. as Flute (Thisbe), in Midsommer Flight's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, directed by Beth Wolf. (photo credit: Claire Monson)Like Peter Quince’s players, Midsommer Flight’s actors are passionate and dedicated – and possess enormous talent to back up their fervor. Most play more than one role, most notably Dennis and Kingsley, who portray Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania, respectively. The latter is a strong and smart choice on Wolf’s part. Theseus and Hippolyta are loving and straightforward while Oberon and Titania feud and clash, and the two actors embrace the character contrasts and the copious time spent onstage. (One note: though quick costume changes can be challenging, having Kingsley wear her hair down as Titania may have cleared up some audience confusion.) In turn, the same quartet (Adrian Garcia, Jason Markoff, Kelsey Melvin and Stephanie Shum) plays both Quince’s actors and Titania’s fairies, transitioning from one persona to another with breathless bliss.

The rest of the cast is mostly enchanting. Hogan is sweet and relatable as the unlucky-in-love Helena, successfully avoiding the trap of making the character whiny and annoying. Korajczyk gives Hermia an adorable frustration, and has a lovely chemistry with Habben’s Lysander. I do wish Wolf would have coached two actors slightly differently. Though hilarious as smart-mouthed actor Nick Bottom, J. Preddie Predmore plays the character entirely on the surface and fails to explore Bottom’s innate vulnerability – which is especially prevalent after his time with Titania in the forest. And Saracino plays Puck with near-perfect timing, gorgeous physicality and impish glee – but at times Wolf has her unnecessarily gesticulating and overplaying, rather than trusting Shakespeare’s language and a terrifically capable actress.

When done right, Dream is pure hedonistic fun – and Midsommer Flight does it right. Shakespeare’s language sparkles in the night air, out of the mouths of a clever cast who relishes each syllable. Director Wolf understands the play’s underlying themes: love, spontaneity, fate and heart, delivered with a healthy sense of humor that’s essential to human nature and survival. While scenes are rife with giggly sexual tension, this Dream is not only family-friendly but also a wonderful way to introduce others to Shakespeare. During the show, several casual passersby became engaged audience members, which in and of itself is magic.

Rating: ★★★½

A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues through August 26th at Touhy Park, 7348 N. Paulina (map), with performances Saturday at 6pm, Sunday at 2pm.  Live music begins one hour prior to each performance (see musician schedule here).  Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. More info at time: 1 hour 40 minutes, no intermission)

Midsommer Flight rehearsal at Touhy Park

Rehearsal at Touhy Park – complete with a young, rapt audience of new Shakespeare lovers!




Jared Dennis (Oberon/Theseus), Ross Patrick Frawley (Peter Quince/Egeus), Adrian Garcia (Francis Flute/Mote), Adam Habben (Lysander), Annie Hogan (Helena), Caroline Kingsley(Titania, Hippolyta), Anne Korajczyk (Hermia), Jason Markoff (Tom Snout, Mustardseed), Kelsey Melvin (Robin Starveling, Peaseblossom), Ken Miller (Demetrius), J. Preddie Predmore (Nick Bottom), Jeannie Saracino (Puck), Stephanie Shum (Snug/Cobweb)

behind the scenes

Beth Wolf (Director), Ross Lemmon (Props), Dawen Wang (Composer), Claire Monson (photos)


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Category: 2012 Reviews, Chicago Park District, Lauren Whalen, Midsommer Flight, William Shakespeare

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