Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in Action)

Shakespeare in Action presents the Bard’s comedy under the stars, on stage in Toronto

Shakespeare in Action presents its first annual ‘Shakespeare in a Shell’ outdoor performance. Bring your own blanket (or maybe even a picnic) to the Little Avenue Memorial Park in Weston and settle in for an energetic, fun and a family-friendly night filled with unrequited love and farcical characters of the classic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although, expect some tastefully added singing and hilarious modernized bits in this campy re-telling.

Easily accessible through the UP Express train, Little Avenue Memorial Park is a five-minute walk from Weston station, which leads to a charming shell theatre in a cozy park. Families and couples are all seated on benches, folding chairs and blankets, stretching out and relaxing while waiting for the performance to begin.

Opening each performance is a different local artist, Abdi Hussein a spoken word performer was present during mine. Although I am happy at the inclusion of local artists, the content was less kid-friendly then I had expected (as a warning to potential parents). However, the rest of the performance was perfectly suited for kids of all ages. With their laughter even more audible than the parents.

The play itself is incredibly well done, with a very talented cast that perfectly encapsulates each character. They loudly project in the open space, which can be an issue with outdoor performances, all while adding bits of comical modernization including a perfectly timed Donald Trump impression.

Puck, played by Rose Tuong, wears a Raptors jersey while playing the fairy/jester mix, sometimes rapping the classical words or flossing (the dance move, not the dental variety). She carries a backpack of snacks, which she enjoys while peaking out and watching the misfit actors rehearse their play. Although she arguably has the most fun character in the show, Tuong was a strong performer, who I was always waiting to reappear.

The added music and singing through the performance is an adorable touch, as the cast sings different pop songs like “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd with an accompanied drummer. The costume design by Sylvia Defend is just as fun, especially Flute in the ending sequence who wears a dress made out of a tarp with hair made out of caution tape. Earlier in the play, the little girls sitting behind me gawked at Titania’s dress, remarking how pretty she looked.

The second the play ended, I heard multiple audience members talking about coming again and bringing more friends along. Families, couples, solo adventures — this is such a fun and free summer night of theatre that anyone can enjoy! I highly recommend going to see this before it closes. 

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Photo of Michael Chiem, Tammi Freeman, Suchiththa Wickremesooriya, and Amanda Cordner by Kathleen Landayto.

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