Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Actor’s Theatre of Sacramento

Showtimes: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 10/13; $18-$20; California Stage Co., 2509 R St.; (916) 501-6104;
Rated 3.0

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy and a love story filled with star-crossed lovers, mischievous forest fairies and an amateur thespian group.

The Actor’s Theatre of Sacramento’s co-directors Ed Claudio and Mark Heckman tackle this Shakespeare classic, which enables them to bring together 30 actors of various ages, backgrounds and expertise onstage in a variety of colorful and imaginative roles. This gives opportunities to actors on all different levels, but also burdens them with the density of Shakespearean dialogue and plot lines.

Many of the actors are current or former students in Claudio’s Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento, where he’s given lessons to blossoming actors since 1989. And many Actor’s Theatre productions are a way to give hopeful and experienced actors onstage opportunities.

Though all the actors display willingness, enthusiasm and great intentions in this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and some are able to deliver, others stumble through a bit more, which makes the show come across as a student production at times.

The four leads—Eileen Hoang as Hermia, Mark Ruis as Lysander, Gaya Murthy as Helena and Robin Sanders as Demetrius—do bring the story to life as lovers who are thwarted and rejoined by the magical powers of forest creatures, eternal hopefulness and the enthusiasm of their fellow thespians.