Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Richard Rose. High Park Amphitheatre, to Sept. 2.
Canadian Stage’s annual Dream in High Park (now Shakespeare in High Park) celebrates its 30th anniversary with a staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Director Richard Rose’s new Dream is the eighth version to grace the green space and, while not the most enchanting production, it’s one of the funniest.
Rose relocates Shakespeare’s giddy tale from ancient Greece to his own (proverbial) backyard. The Athenian lovers escaping to the woods now look like Torontonians in cottage country. Duke Theseus (Dmitry Chepovetsky) and his new bride, Hippolyta (Tamara Podemski), are celebrity royals à la William and Kate, and the tradesmen/actors have become a crew of working stiffs, led by that plaid-clad ham, realtor Nick Bottom (John Cleland).
The emphasis is on silliness, from the scrappy lovers who tear clothing off each other to the tradesmen who lip-synch baby voices in their dual roles as Titania’s fairies. The actors throw themselves into their parts with wild abandon. Especially fun are Pierre Simpson’s Québécois Peter Quince (renamed Pierre Le Coing in this production), Mark Crawford’s gloomily Slavic Francis Flute (Francis Filchenkov here), and Sarah Sherman’s endearingly geeky take on the lovelorn Helena. The show runs 90 minutes and, while there’s some mild sexual innuendo, it’s suitable for older children.