Short Shakespeare! Midsummer Nights Dream @ ChicagoShakes

4 out of 4 stars

I will admit, I am one of those folks that sniffs my nose at much that is billed as Children’s Theatre. Kids need real theatre not watered down adaptations !  I look askance at the idea of truncated versions of classics.  So it was with some cynicism I headed to The Yard at Navy Pier behind a phalanx of school busses to experience Short Shakespeare! Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 I need not have worried: the 75 minute rendering of mistaken identities, quarreling fairies and a romp in the woods of supposedly Ancient Greece is a gem . Chicago Shakes has lavished the same care on this production that they do on all the mainstage shows. The quality of every aspect is first rate.  Izumi Inaba’s exquisite and colorful costumes allow the actors to play several distinctive characters without confusion.  Scenic designer Lauren Nigri has created a world that will make you forget the howling winter winds outside.   Christopher Sheard’s Lysander comes out before the show to welcome the youth to the theatre and encourages them to engage.  Many an adult I know could benefit from his advice to newbies to Elizabethan language.

The fast paced production features stand out actors: Christiana Clark as Titania/Hippolyta is a powerful and heroic female, rendering Sean Fortunato’s Oberon /Theseus more of an equal.  Travis Turner delivers a delicious Puck.  And Adam Wesley Brown’s Bottom has more dignity than most.  Every school child knows this story of arguing fairy king and queen who interfere with two couples causing people to fall in love with whatever they see upon awakening.  It all gets sorted right in the end and sends the kids out into Navy Pier laughing and feeling most excellent about going to theatre. 

I saw a school show, but I do not hesitate to send anyone who loves Shakespeare but lacks the time or patience for a full show to this beautiful experience.   This Short Shakespeare packs all the protein and no filler.

Short Shakespeare! A midsummer Night’s Dream is playing for students during the week and families on Saturdays until March 10th.  Get out of the snow, and into Summer rat theChicago Shakespeare Theatre’s  Yard on Navy Pier.For tickets and information go to www.ChicagoShakes.com  or call 312-596-5600.