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REVIEW: Shakespeare Festival Brings ‘Midsummer’ to Nashville

When Shakespearean fairies descend upon Nashville, they apparently wear Converse and jean shorts.

This year’s Nashville Shakespeare Festival production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” combines the old with the new, creating an interesting culture clash between modern and classic. Costumes range from that of a prom dress for a fairy queen to an outfit fit for a frat boy on a young Athenian noble and everything in between.

The festival is no stranger to adaptations, putting on a World War II themed “Much Ado About Nothing” the past summer. This one still strays far from what Shakespeare would have imagined for his magical comedy, yet does not disappoint.

Those hoping for a play sticking to what Shakespeare himself would have performed should stay far away from Centennial Park for the next two weekends, but those with an open mind will appreciate the fun night out that the performance provides.

This play overall is nothing short of enjoyable, fascinating the audience with unexpected wardrobe choices, an interactive musical number and a sassy Puck that gleefully watches the action from the sides of the stage when he is no longer meant to be in the limelight.

Fairies bounce through the audience in brightly colored outfits, sneaking food whenever possible and occasionally leading the audience in musical intermissions. They cut up, watch from sidelines and create the majority of the humor.

The acting of the main four Athenian teenagers leaves a bit to be desired but it is difficult to tell whether that is intentional at times. Secondhand embarrassment for some of the characters on stage happens frequently when it comes to the group, though that is true even when reading the play.

One of the highlights is easily a Shakespearean era version of a girl fight, with Helena and Hermia hurling insults at one another over a misunderstanding about boys. The two men find themselves in the middle of the audience attempting to separate the two females from causing bodily harm. All the time trading between the role of mediator and the filming of the spectacle on an iPhone.

The play-within-a-play found towards the end of the production does not usually capture a reader’s attention, but a viewer of this play may be crying tears of laughter by the end. The meta-actors trip through a Greek tragedy with southern accents that rival those of Duck Dynasty episodes and cause delight for those watching both onstage and off.

Everything about this performance draws the viewer’s attention and refuses to release it until Puck gives his closing address and bids everyone a good night. The production is a two hour explosion of colors, magic and humor, a way that every person should want to spend a warm summer evening.

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream Thursdays through Sundays until Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free but a donation of$10 is suggested.

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