2010 – Public Theatre, Pittsburgh
Director: Ted Pappas
Pappas promises a “big production” with such a large set by James Noone, a regular Public set designer, that the theater had to rent an extra truck to haul in all the pieces.
“And, we are going to use the whole theater,” he said, “the balconies, the aisles, the trap door in the stage. We’ve never done a play with so many ways on and off [the stage]. And the actors will be speaking in the midst of the audience.”
The approach is another way of responding to Shakespeare’s concept that “all the world’s a stage,” Pappas said. “In this show, the audience is part of the play as well. It is in ‘The Dream’ right along with the actors.”
2009 – Two River Theater Company, California Shakespeare
Director: Aaron Posner
“Aaron Posner’s inspired creation at [Cal Shakes] is nothing short of brilliant. … Mr. Posner found that the beating heart of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the mischief and humor and…gave it a new life.” —The San Francisco Appeal
2007 – Public Theatre, Central Park
Director: Daniel Sullivan
Like some shape-shifting fairy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” changes form and colors every time it is produced. Different aspects of the plot step forward to become, as it were, the lead singer, to let you know what the play is truly about. And in this instance it’s the rude mechanicals who remind us of the mysterious and exalting powers of make-believe, as well as the thrills and dangers of live theater.
… The look of this “Dream” is Victorian, as if the artist Arthur Rackham hadconfused assignments to illustrate Charles Dickens and the Brothers Grimm and wound up blending them together. The set designer Eugene Lee has whipped up a glorious blasted tree, garlanded in ivy, to serve as the center of fairy society. Ann Hould-Ward’s luscious costumes are big on bustles, bonnets and swallowtails. And the chorus of fairies who serve their queen, Titania (Laila Robins), are played, as in the days of Granville-Barker and Beerbohm Tree, by a phalanx of charming (and slightly menacing) children.
… In this “Dream” Oberon (Keith David) and Puck (Jon Michael Hill), the fairy king and his minion, are top-hatted music-hall wand wavers. They are stylish figures who nicely convey the detached amusement of otherworldly creatures watching mortals being fools.
–Ben Brantley, New York Times
2004 – Saratoga International Theatre Institute
Director: Anne Bogart
Bogart chose America in the 1930s as the backdrop for this production. The Grapes of Wrath landscape emerged in the initial speech (transposed from Titania’s text in act 2) describing a catastrophe in nature that in this version has proceeded the action: “The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain, / The plowman lost his sweat, and the green corn / Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard . . .” Ellen Lauren’s effective delivery of the text brought to mind Steinbeck’s account of the enormous disruption in human life that accompanied the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Gabriel Berry’s imaginative costumes, Neil Patel’s silver expanse of Midwestern sky, and T.Griffin’s bluegrass-inspired music subtly recalled the Great Depression. By selecting this era as her landscape, Bogart emphasized the gap between rich and poor, and Berry’s costumes reflected these differences.
-Bonnie Jean Eckard (review requires access to Project Muse, provided by CMU)
Barrie Rutter’s Northern Broadsides production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream arrived at the Globe just after finishing a tour of Brazil, spent two hours rehearsing on the stage in front of an audience of builders and pleasantly surprised tourists, and less than an hour later, the company were putting on their single performance to a packed Globe house.
… The first half was played in their own clothes – mostly jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with the company logo, a boar’s head. Rutter had warned the audience before the play began that three cases of costumes had been lost somewhere between Rio and Heathrow, so that as with their rapid acclimatising to the stage and space, the players had to improvise to make up for the loss of any help from costume in their characterisation – no mean feat when you are a 14-stone workman transformed into a fairy with nothing but movement and voice to disguise you.