A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tara Sloane

The best and the worst thing about theater in the park is the inherently mixed nature of how things play out. It's daunting enough to perform a tricky text such as A Midsummer Night's Dream without throwing in jet planes passing overhead and oblivious cell-phone chatterers wandering into the proceedings. Yet Strange Capers, under the direction of Randy Reyes, pulls off one of Shakespeare's most appealingly playful works with a sense of fun, passion, and precision (even if at times it sounds as though the entire Delta fleet has organized a flyover). Ali Rose Dachis is a fresh-faced Hermia in love with the clean-cut Lysander (Brendan Frost). But here this production throws a welcome gender-bender twist into the proceedings, in the form of an intense Demetrius (Rachael Davies) and amusingly demure Helena (Joshua Fazeli, a big guy wringing genuine emotion out of Helena's unrequited longings and eventual indignation). The play-within-a-play largely hinges on H. Adam Harris's Nick Bottom. Harris grabs every opportunity for ridiculousness in the unhinged role, shouting, knocking down the other actors, and eventually exhibiting a convincing ass's bray. Another strong duo emerges in Skyler Nowinski's Puck, all hypercharged gangly limbs, and Elizabeth Grullon as an ethereal Oberon (she is otherworldly in the role, her body angled like a hunter's as she acutely observes the affairs of mere mortals). This show comes in at under two hours, and it's nothing less than a near-perfect summertime diversion—how fortunate a bonus that it could easily hold its own on any number of stages. Shakespeare's play is about the malleability of love, and the intoxicating joy of abandonment and romance. Here we get all the right messages, delivered with a contagious sense of enjoyment. And as Harris proved at one point last weekend, a well-delivered, rousing speech is enough to get the big pooches all vocal and excited. Everyone, it seems, really is a critic. Free, donations accepted. 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Through August 1

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