Patricia McGregor is directing "A Midsummer NIght's Dream." Photo courtesy of Old Globe Theatre
The Old Globe Theatre’s fifth “Globe for All” touring program couldn’t have picked a choicer cut of Shakespeare than the fairy-inflected, featherweight A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You need not be a scholar of The Bard nor an experienced theatergoer to savor this whimsical romp. There’s enough stage play and silliness to maintain the attention span even of youngsters.
So it was at the Sunday afternoon staging on the top floor of the Central Library (the Shiley Special Events Suite) downtown. The room was packed with folks who happily all found something better – and more enlightening – to do than while away the first day of Standard Time in front of a computer screen or an NFL game. They were rewarded with a delightful performance of Midsummer, directed by Patricia McGregor (she previously directed the “Globe for All” Measure for Measure two years ago) and starring a game cast of nine, all of whom did at least double duty when it came to roles.
For an experienced spectator like myself, the joy in the room was not merely the Midsummer production (though it is a witty, fast-moving and animated one), but seeing the faces of others in the crowd who might have been enjoying their first Shakespeare moment. That’s the gift that the Old Globe is giving to the San Diego community, in particular people who can’t afford or can’t get to the Balboa Park theater itself for shows. These “Globe for All” performances, being staged at 17 community partner venues like the downtown library, are free, but they’re also educational without being scholastic, accessible without being overly simplified, and presented by talented Globe artists with enthusiasm and love, both for the material and for the audiences. And love, as you know, is what A Midsummer Night’s Dream is all about.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also be presented on the Globe’s outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre stage on Nov. 18 at noon and at 3:15 p.m. There will be a charge -- $10-$15 – for these public performances only.)
Visit the Old Globe’s website, www.theoldglobe.org, to see the list of remaining “Globe for All” locations and performance times.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.