A Midsummer Night's Dream | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

A Midsummer Night's Dream 

Here's something you don't see in America very often: Shakespeare that makes sense. Directors Curt Columbus and Gavin Witt jam 28 University of Chicago students and 18 neighborhood kids into a rollickingly hip, unashamedly rough-edged, and wondrously clear A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed under the stars in the Reynolds Club courtyard. They update the play in an intriguing albeit piecemeal fashion--the Athenian courtiers are blue-blooded resort mavens, Oberon's spirit entourage are industrial club kids, Titania's fairy helpers are Victoria's Secret junkies, and the rude mechanicals are, well, let me get back to you on that. Nonetheless they manage to assemble a coherent, deeply felt story of amorous adolescent befuddlement and petty adult inflexibility. The amateur cast members put most professional companies to shame, keeping the show buoyant for three hours, understanding that they must play the text rather than revere it. As a result the show has the kind of joyful semiveracity that made the film Clueless so successful. Sure, the show's got a half dozen dead spaces large enough to house zeppelins (this is a student summer project, after all), and most of the text's deeper psychological significance is brushed aside. But if you want to see a 400-year-old play brought vibrantly to life (the final play-within-a-play is bladder-rupturingly funny), you could do a lot worse. Most of the year, in fact, you have no other choice. University of Chicago, Hutchinson Courtyard (or Mandel Hall in case of rain), 1131 E. 57th, 702-3414. August 15 through 17: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM; festival seating for picnickers begins at 6:30 PM. $10 in advance; $12 at the door.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream in a tree.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30
Performing Arts
June 26

Popular Stories