The Bard is back, good dreamers, with a little bucolic sorcery, plays within plays, and a whole lot of romance.
Shakespeare's comedic paean to the hallucinatory joys of love is reprised in Drew McGowan's take on "Midsummer Night's Dream," opening Thursday, May 31, at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook.
"Midsummer Night's Dream" concerns the strange and tumultuous events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. These include the adventures of four fairly confused Athenian lovers, and a troupe of amateur actors, who are set upon by the fairies in the enchanted forest in which most of the play is set.
The play is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596, and is one of Shakespeare's most beloved works. But in spite of this, the play's strangeness gives it an eternal novelty that makes each new production a surprise.
McGowan himself says that as far as the play goes, the term stream of consciousness perhaps best applies.
"There is that logic, there is that follow-through, of a well-known story and plot," he said. "But at the same time, you never know what's going to come at you on the stage, just as you never know what's going to come to mind (in a stream of consciousness narrative). That's what we're aiming for."
"It's a 400-year-old play that's meant to blow people's minds," McGowan said. "We're trying to do the play as it's meant to be done in spirit."
He added that he's been describing the production as "Neo-classical."
"Over the past years, Shakespeare has been railroaded by intellectuals, who forgot how silly he can be," he said. "If anything, this play has more in common with Monty Python than Masterpiece Theatre."
The cast is as follows: Bud Abbott (Egeus), Susan Hanson (Titania), Drew McGowan (Oberon), Barry Coulter (Theseus), Thom McGaughy (Quince), Killeene Delorme (Bottom), Don Davidson (Flute), Alexa Laing (Puck), Kara MacBride (Puck), Josh Klassen (Lysander), Devan Jones (Demetrius), Stewart Driedger (Snug), Elli Gillen (Helena), Heather Dixon (Hermia), Sioban Staplin (Hypolyta), Brianne Bingham (Philostrate), Nathan Staplin (Starvling), Jaxon Jensen (Snout), Eve MacBride (Cobweb), Savannah Flegel (Peasblossom), and Erin Lindsay (Mustardseed). The set is by Paul Kershaw.
Tickets are $15, available at Lotus Books and at Kimberley Visitor Centre.
"Everybody's coming in firing on all cylinders," McGowan said. "Everybody's embraced it in a way you don't often see."