Your Chicago Guide’s tickets for two to the press viewing of A Midsummer Night’s Dream courtesy of Oak Park Festival Theatre.
“The course of love never did run smooth.” ~ Lysander, Act I, Scene I
Love. Desire. Transformation. William Shakespeare’s timeless fantasy follows three separate but intertwining stories over the course of a single night: the Lovers, the Mechanicals, and the Fairies. As each thread mingles with the next, the forest becomes an enchanted playground, where affections are misdirected and the limits of love tested before the order is ultimately restored. Experience this joyful production as it was truly meant to be performed: outdoors, under the canopy of Oak Park’s beautiful Austin Gardens. What can be better on a warm summer evening than a picnic basket, some wine, and some wild antics of The Bard on stage?
This whimsical new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playful and magical. Shakespeare’s beloved 1595 comedy retains all its charm in the contemporary outdoor staging, directed by Oak Park Festival’s new artistic director, Peter G. Anderson. The theatre is still recovering from the aftershocks of the pandemic, but it’s wonderful to see live action at Austin Gardens once again. We certainly enjoyed our time with this company of young, powerful performers. Highly recommended to anyone, even if they are not (gasp!) a Shakespeare lover.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and widely performed comedies. The play weaves together the adventures of four young Athenian lovers, a group of performers who plan to present a play for the royal wedding, plus the meddling antics of a gaggle of fairies who inhabit the forest outside Athens. The cast dons contemporary attire, which might be slightly confusing for a novice, as each actor performs multiple characters. But as the enchanting play rambles on, the story lines do clear up even for the most uninitiated. The play is lively, with a series of interconnecting plots. The fun is further multiplied by the trendy gender-neutral casting.
Lysander loves his girlfriend Hermia. They want to marry, but her father won’t consent, ordering her to marry Demetrius. The four young lovers stumble into an enchanted forest where the merriment immediately begins to unfold. There a group of amateur actors rehearse a play-within-a-play to celebrate an upcoming royal wedding. The wedding celebration features the theatre troupe performing a play within the play of the ill-fated, yet farcical romance of Pyramus and Thisbe. At its core, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a moving celebration of the power of love. It is fast-moving and hilarious, and not at all outdated.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is now playing in Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Avenue, in the heart of Oak Park. The play runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through Aug. 19th, 2023. Tickets are available via Oak Park Festival Theatre’s website.