By William Shakespeare
Adapted & Directed by David H. Bell
At Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Short Shakespeare exposes wonderfully to all-ages.
No matter how old, 5, 10, 20, 50, 70, all ages were present for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Short Shakespeare is a program that CST puts on to expose the younger audience of Chicago to the one and only, William Shakespeare. This version is cut down to 75 minutes. It engages with the children, makes them laugh, ask questions, and learn the fine art. Even with the shorter, adapted version, all the important components of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are intact. Include a bit of modern language fillers to the production and the clear, energetic story will come to life. Pleasing all ages, but certainly the adolescents, CST executes the learning curve touch.
Featured at the end of the show, Director of Education at CST, Marilyn Halperin holds a unique Q&A with the children and the actors. The obvious success of the production was evident because of young questions regarding costumes, the script, and the comedic elements. Costume designer Melissa Torchia killed it. Making each character memorable for the first-timers. David H. Bell adapted this production to fit the needs of the kids. He made them laugh, engage, and grasp the messages of the show. CST Short Shakespeare’s intentions are conclusive, and if I may add, are carried out by the Shakespeare amateurs. And experts too!
The actual performance was lively. We are introduced to Hermia (Tiffany Yvonne Cox), who is in love with Lysander (Nate Burger). Hermia’s father, Egeus (Don Forston), only gives his consent to Demetrius (Ryan Hallahan). Enraged by her father’s decisions, Hermia decides to escape into the forest with Lysander to avoid controversy. Along the way they stumble upon fairies, an acting troupe, the hilarious Puck (Steven Lee Johnson), and one big monstrosity of love. The whole adventure is stuffed with creativity, laughter, and brilliant lighting to portray the moods of the scenes. Beautiful colors of the costumes and props sure gives the kids something to enjoy. A true spectacle.
Now this is where I come in. I am just like one of those kids. But I am a bit older. I have recently been given the opportunity to become exposed to Theatre and Shakespeare and everything that comes along with it. In doing so, I have found a new world that I never knew was out there. I can’t express enough how crucial it is to be apart of this art. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Short Shakespeare is doing a gigantic favor to all of its audience experiences with this amazing production. Now do a favor for someone and expose him or her to this. No matter their age. Bring them along to watch one of William Shakespeare’s finest plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Matt Koske, Intern
Date Reviewed: February 22, 2014
For more info checkout the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream page at theatreinchicago.com
Editor’s Note: Matt Koske is an Intern for Chicagocritic.com and he is learning about theatre while he pursues a screenplay writing and journalism career at DePaul University.