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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Lord, what fools these mortals be!
Perhaps Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream exists in two worlds: one like a dream, the other filled with dreamers. The former is the realm of the faeries, and it’s where we spend most of our time. The other environment belongs to the play’s central quartet of lovers, who hightail it out of Athens and into the forest, unwittingly entering a place that’s every bit as heady, heightened, and dizzying as the blush of budding romance or the pangs of unrequited love. For under its magical canopies, the woods harbor meddling sprites, a misapplied love potion or two, and one poor fool with the head of an ass.
In The Pearl Theatre’s production, directed by Bedlam Theatre’s Eric Tucker, that madcap action gets an extra boost—a mere five actors tackle the play’s many roles (and sound effects) with nothing but their own talents and a packed dirt floor to aid them. But don’t mistake the bare-bones approach for something subdued. Tucker guides his cast through the forest’s every twist and turn, sacrificing neither laughs nor pathos and proving that you don’t need an actual donkey head to make Midsummer work. The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout put it like this: “Not since Peter Brook’s now-legendary 1970 Royal Shakespeare Company version has there been so radically original or mysteriously poetic a production of the greatest of all stage comedies. It seals Mr. Tucker’s reputation as the outstanding American classical stage director of his generation.”
Put more plainly: though this cast be but little, they are fierce.
The Pearl Theatre
The Pearl's bookshelf may be filled with plenty of classic scripts, but there's not so much as a speck of dust on any of their pages. Formed in 1984 with the mission of protecting, honoring, and breathing new life into some of history's greatest plays, the company and its ensemble of resident actors tackle beloved masterpieces and little-known gems with equal abandon. There's even room for a contemporary adaptation or two, some world-premiere translations, and the occasional new play, such as Terrence McNally's And Away We Go—a work written especially for The Pearl.
But just as the award-winning ensemble tends to the great plays of the past and present, they also help shape works of the future through The Pearl Conservatory. This education program welcomes artists of all ages to classes helmed by the resident actors, where they learn to strengthen their skills, embrace new techniques, and hide inside of giant oysters as needed.
The Pearl Theatre Company
555 W 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036