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A Midsummer Night's Dream

  • Theater, Shakespeare
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Theatre for a New Audience (see Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare. Directed by Julie Taymor. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 40mins. One intermission.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: in brief

After decades of building its reputation as the city's preeminent classical-theater troupe, Theatre for a New Audience unveils its brand-new multimillion-dollar home in Fort Greene (designed by architect Hugh Hardy). Visionary director Julie Taymor, rebounding from the epic behind-the-scenes drama of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, turns to epic onstage comedy with a fantastical production of Shakespeare's fairy farce, featuring original music by her husband, Elliot Goldenthal.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: theater review by Adam Feldman

Julie Taymor is a thrilling painter of theater, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is less her subject than her canvas. Other productions of Shakespeare’s forest romp may delve deeper into the language or rise higher with the comedy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one that rivals Taymor’s for beauty. The diverse, capable cast of 36 features the unique Kathryn Hunter as a limber, impish Puck; the marvelous Tina Benko as Titania; David Harewood as Oberon, jet-black yin to her glowing yang; and Max Casella as a jaunty Bottom, with Brooklyn-mook swagger and an eerily articulated donkey head. (Four fetching young actors strip to their skivvies as the lovers.)

But the director is unabashedly the star; drawing from a fathomless bag of tricks—trapdoors, wires, masks, projections, shadow puppetry, billowing fabrics and more—she sprinkles each scene with creative fairy dust. Midsummer is the first production at Theatre for a New Audience’s elegant new home in Fort Greene, and Taymor’s restless imagination makes it champagne for the christening.—Theater review by Adam Feldman

THE BOTTOM LINE: Taymor fuses farce and fantasia ravishingly.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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