Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Sacramento Theatre Company
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare’s play about forest sprites and teenage hormones is an audience favorite for a reason. So it’s no surprise that Sacramento Theatre Company’s latest production, directed by Casey McClellan, opened to a full house and big laughs.
Designer Jessica Bertine’s set frames the action with lush curves and textures, letting the actors make the most of the moonlit forest floor. Costume designer Jessica Minnihan’s fairy togs seem coaxed from forest material like Twiggy found poetry, though the Athenian garb lacks cohesion.
Ian Hopps plays a hobgoblin, Puck, with the head of a man, body of a goat and brain of a golden retriever. His excellent chemistry with Ben Muller’s Oberon drives the play’s theme of disorder against the stylized choreography of Titania’s (Gail Dartez) fairy corps.
Tight direction and choice sound design by Emma Bramble make the magic in this production, but things truly shine in the mechanicals’ scenes, where pie tin footlights illuminate American Conservatory Theatre alum Lawrence Hecht as a perfect Nick Bottom paired with Janet Motenko’s exquisitely reedy Quince.
McClellan’s most direct intervention in the play is his expanded vision of the Indian boy Oberon demands of Titania. Rather than cut this problematic conflict, as many productions do, McClellan opens with the boy (Lorenzo Lopez; Miriya Yeung) stolen from his bed by fairies and dropped into the world of Midsummer. Although the dream-as-framing device is a little on the nose, I quite liked the use of “changeling” lore to solve the play’s textual problems for modern audiences.