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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By Michael Lassell, LA Weekly, May 10-16, 1985

Robert Benedetti’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s entertaining play of erotic madness is a small miracle: it preserves the scene and can be performed with ten actors in two hours. We lose two fairies and one rustic thespian, but no essential words. The uptight, bureaucratic Athenian Court (complete with Secret Service men in attendance on the Duke) is transformed into the battling camps of the fairy realm, where Oberon and Titania have come to a boil over the fate of a small boy, an Indian prince both the forest royals greatly covet. Young lovers Hermia and Helena, flying from the laws of Athens in pursuit of their lovers, also appear as fairies in attendance on Titania. The objects of their hearts’ desires, Lysander and Demetrius, do double duty as Sung and Flute in a company of craftsmen preparing a drama in preparation for the Duke’s nuptials to the Queen of the Amazons.

This unencumbered modern-dress Dream is altogether delightful. Oh, the physicality might be more controlled, and the lovers more desperately in love, the fairies more magical and the rustics a little less broad. But the production occupies a notable niche between the dutiful and boring "straight" productions of the Bard’s plays and the god-awful "director’s interpretations" that so often reduce each play to a conceit considerably less imaginative than the play itself. To his credit, Benedetti has mounted his production with minimal design elements (although the contemporary costumes are clever) and with maximum emphasis on the actor. It is one of those little ironies of the theatre that it takes a director of insight and skill to produce a play where the actor is the focus of attention.
 
 

Copyright 1985, LA Weekly
Reprinted by permission
A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Colony Theatre