A Midsummer Night's Dream

Appropriate for Seattle Shakes' fall production, Sheila Daniels sets this love-smacked summer comedy in a decidedly creepy autumnal wood. Set designer Andrea Bryn Bush dangles a forest full of kinky, leafless vines, illuminated by Ben Zamora's moody lighting. Below, the dreadlocks of Oberon (Reginald André Jackson) sweep the floor; mischief purveyor Puck (Chris Ensweiler) screeches and wields his scepter like a javelin; and punky fairy queen Titania (a lithe, androgynous-looking Amy Thone) casts spells with a rotation of her ankle (accompanied by Robertson Witmer's beguiling chimes, cymbals, and gongs). Midsummer's traditional delight springs from the amorous intersections among humans, gods, and fairies, but Daniels ups the ante by making one of the lovesick mortal swains a woman. Lysander becomes Lysandra (Christine Marie Brown), lending a satisfyingly specific urgency to the same-sex couple's need to elope, and rendering it all the funnier when Lysandra's affections shift from Hermia (Allison Strickland) to Helena (comedic sure-shot Terri Weagant). Inexplicably, the pace falls off a bit when focus shifts to the "rude mechanicals"--the craftsmen whose rehearsals and performance of the lame Pyramus and Thisbe occupy much of the second half. Though this play-within-a-play is well-rendered, I found myself wanting to get back to the enchanted forest. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 20. Continues through Nov. 13, 2011

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