July 16, 2003

Theater: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Shakepearean fifth dimension

Will Act for Food Director Daniel Shea took the inspiration for his clever production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from the science-fiction anthology TV shows of the 1950s and '60s, series like "The Outer Limits" and "The Twilight Zone," with a touch of "As the World Turns."

We still get the familiar story: Lovers Hermia (Carrie Corrigan) and Lysander (Billy Cooper) flee into the forest to escape her forced marriage to Demetrius (Justin Speer), who pursues them; he in turn is followed by Helena (Samantha Gleisten), who loves him. In the woods, the fairies play tricks on them, and on each other, and on a silly and unfortunate weaver named Bottom (Adam Silver).

Rachel M. Sypniewski has followed Shea's lead with 1960s costuming, so we get fairy king Oberon (Steve Townshend) in a green-and-brown geometric-patterned shirt that epitomizes the fashion excesses of the era, and Hermia in an empire-waisted, yellow chiffon mini-dress that screams "1966 prom."

Corrigan does a wonderful job as Hermia, feisty and funny, and Gleisten portrays Helena with fine humor. Silver's comic Bottom is a joy. But the perfect-performance prize has to go to Micah Bernier's Puck-as-Rod Serling.

What someone who never saw Serling on "The Twilight Zone" might make of it, I can't tell, but for those who remember the show, this paean is screamingly funny.

— Leah A. Zeldes

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" continues at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Aug. 9 at WNEP Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Tickets are $18, $12 to $15 with the donation of nonperishable food items (open seating). Tickets for a "Cans for Cash" benefit, July 31, start at $20, with $1 off for each food donation. Paid parking available at 3232 N. Halsted St. Call (773) 755-1693.