There is not a more pleasant way to spend an August evening than sitting on a grass covered amphitheater watching a Midsummer Night’s Dream. By good fortune a slight breeze was gently cooling the heat of the day. Tall leafy trees along the creek rise above the stage scenery and are the perfect backdrop for the eerie enchantments in the woods near Athens.
My arrival was late and I missed the beginning scene where the entanglements of true love are introduced. Fortunately the “Cast of Characters” printed in the program saved the day. Eugeus, the father of Hermia (consents to the betrothal of his daughter Hermia to Demetrius). Hermia, fair maid of Athens is in love with Lysander. Helena, fair maid of Athens is in love with Demetrius. Thus the stage is set.
Puck is the mischievous helper of Oberon who is King of the Fairies. His pranks and antics twist the fates of both human and fairy lovers. Cameron Toney plays the part of Puck, and you will not find a sprightlier Puck in any theatre setting.
In an outdoor amphitheater I usually have great difficulty hearing the actors, but through some magic the sound was clear and the archaic language of Shakespeare was understandable. This is even more remarkable in that I was seated at the farthest point from the stage. The actors who memorize all those Shakespearean lines justly deserve all the credit that they receive. Often we forget the behind-the-scenes crews that help to make plays successful. Lights and sound director Gary Schroeder deserves special recognition.
Our community has been greatly enriched by the 42 years of Winters Theatre Company productions. Two of my children were fortunate to have played roles more than 20 years ago and of course we, as doting parents, attended those plays numerous times.
I get confused by Shakespeare. For instance, Puck utters the phrase to Oberon, King of the Fairies, “Lord, what fools these mortals be.” He is referring to the foolish antics of the four Athenian mortals who — lost in the woods’ — are trying to reconcile their various love affairs.
Of course, Puck doesn’t mention his own foolish antics nor that he messes up the love potion, thus creating more chaos. Nor does he make reference to Oberon playing a trick on his queen, and making her fall in love with the next creature or person she sees which happens to be Bottom, whose head has recently been transformed into a donkey’s head.
As for me, I like to keep things simple. Snoopy in the comic strip Peanuts is my favorite. I am sure that if Shakespeare got hold of Peanuts he would find a way to complicate it.