Shakespeare in the Park, presented by the Public Theater, on Saturday, August 25.
Like everyone who has studied Shakespeare and who loves his work, I have strong feelings about how his plays should be interpreted. If, for example, a production diverges sharply from my vision of Othello (deeply internalized self-loathing rotting behind a facade of strength), I’m skeptical about its quality from the outset. My opinions about A Midsummer Night’s Dream are no less passionate (though perhaps less vehement), so I was slightly disappointed when I learned that the Public Theater’s new production wasn’t using the same actors for Athenian and fairy royalty, often key in the sort of Freudian, forest-as-the-unconscious interpretation I favor.
But Midsummer has so many elements—the lovers, the mechanicals, the fairies, the city, the woods—that even if one element isn’t to your taste, another surely will be. And the Public Theater production won me over. Funny but not frothy, sometimes creepy but never cruel, it was too charming and sweet not to enjoy.