Review–The Guthrie’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (at Minnesota Connected)

03/01/2015

The lights are up, the applause has died down, and the most awkward moment in every live theater production begins. Before you take the requisite stroll to the end of the balcony and peek out at the Mississippi, or squeeze onto the longest escalator in Minnesota, or pass the fancy restaurant and labyrinthine passageways of the Guthrie’s uniform architectural performance — there is that awkward, unavoidable transition from theater to life. One moment you’re part of a four hundred-year-old play about horny teenagers. The next you’re watching your neighbors, shuffling your feet, and wondering about where you parked and what you should say next to your date.

It’s almost, as Shakespeare put it, like we “have just slumbered here while these visions did appear.” The focused illusion of fiction disperses. The pragmatic world of light and sound comes rushing back in. Shakespeare wrote better, more compelling plays than A Midsummer Night’s Dream, many of which are trotted out far less frequently. However, it’s hard to begrudge the enduring appeal of such a whimsical oddity. Midsummer encourages the worst impulses in its audience. We’re meant to wake from its spell — like the lovelorn Greek teenagers lost in the woods, Bottom the hammy actor magically turned into a donkey, or Titania the fairy queen bewitched into becoming Bottom’s lover — a little embarrassed with ourselves and the moonstruck leaps we’re all capable of making in our most vulnerable hour.

Read more at Minnesota Connected.

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