Shakespeare In High Park: A Midsummer Night's Dream

A royally amusing take on Shakespeare's popular comedy

Presented by Canadian Stage
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Richard Rose

John Cleland and Tamara Podemski in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Chris Gallow.

The stars aligned in High Park on Thursday night for the opening of Canadian Stage's 30th anniversary production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Directed by Tarragon Theatre artistic director Richard Rose, this comically Canadian version of the classic tale moves the action from Athens to cottage country, as Duke Theseus (Dmitry Chepovetsky) and Hippolyta (Tamara Podemski) arrive in a golf cart to plan their wedding celebration among bagpipes, Mounties and Muskoka chairs.

But the moment is interrupted by Egeus (John Dolan), a distraught townsperson who asks Theseus for help. His daughter Hermia (Sophia Kolinas) refuses to marry Demetrius (Ali Momen), because she in love with Lysander (Eric Morin). Theseus orders Hermia to follow her father's instructions but she and Lysander form a scheme to escape. Meanwhile, Hermia's friend Helena (Sarah Sherman), desperate to win the affections of her beloved Demetrius, tells him of their plan and together they follow the pair into the forest.

Karyn McCallum's versatile set quickly transforms into an enchanted woodland as the four lovers venture into the realm of Fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania (also played by Chepovetsky and Podemski) where they are manipulated by the mischievous Puck (Gil Garrat), who toys with their hearts for his own impish entertainment. At the same time, a troupe of amateur players or mechanicals, led by French Canadian Pierre Le Coing (Pierre Simpson), including Francis Filchenkov (Mark Crawford), Tom Chow (Richard Lee), and featuring the Ron Burgundy-esque realtor Nick Bottom (played by the hilarious John Cleland), rehearse The Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, which they will perform at the Duke's wedding. The men unwittingly become pawns in the fairies' game, and a donkey-headed Bottom becomes the object of queen Titania's spellbound desire.

Shakespeare's Athenian lovers are given modern personalities under the magic touch of director Richard Rose: Hermia's a tease, Lysander's a rock star, Demetrius is a nerd, and Helena a fitness-obsessed, desperate singleton. The foursome become enmeshed in a funny love quadrangle, tearing off articles of clothing, and leaping over hedges in a highly physical battle of the sexes. Rose also has the mechanicals play the roles of Titania's fairies Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Mustardseed, lip-synching to a child's recording of their lines.

At 90 minutes with no intermission, this fast-paced Dream ends with a laugh-out-loud performance by the mechanicals at the Duke's wedding, which includes participation from an audience member, and, on this particular night, featured a guest appearance by Scott Thompson (The Kids In The Hall) as her majesty the Queen in honour of her Diamond Jubilee. Apparently there will be special appearances by city of Toronto councillors, well-known performers and Canadian Stage donors at each performance. How perfectly bewitching.

Shakespeare in the Park is a family-friendly, pay-what-you-can event. A summer tradition to be enjoyed by all. Don't miss it!

A Midsummer Night's Dream runs until September 2 in High Park. Visit for more information.

Show Dates: 
Fri, 2012-06-29 - Sun, 2012-09-02
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