Mortal and magical foolishness abound in Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and Theatricum Botanicum, the outdoor venue in rustic Topanga Canyon that specializes in classic theater, hopes that family audiences will come see for themselves how accessible the Bard can be.
"We do it every year for schools," said the company's artistic director Ellen Geer, who is directing the show. "And the production is so lovely we wanted to extend it to families." This play of mismatched lovers, noblemen, a magic spell gone awry, a comic band of lowly actors, and a mischievous sprite named Puck, all in the forest realm of a jealous Fairy King, is a natural for her theater, Geer said.
"We're just the place for it. A wonderful fairy world appears out of the (real) forest, actors swing out of trees, and we even have a wonderful running brook."
The staging will stay true to the original. "There's something in there for everybody. We don't make it bawdy at all, there's no need to. It's a sweet comedy." And, Geer stressed, children and parents will have no trouble with the language of the play.
"We've never had the complaint 'I didn't understand Shakespeare' " when performing for children as young as the third grade, Geer said. "You'd be surprised at how they get it. They're fascinated by the play's three worlds: the comic world, the duke's world and the wonderful world of the fairies.
"Shakespeare's plays are so strong and beautifully written," she added, "if you just do them honestly and simply, you bring them to life."
Audiences are encouraged to tote cushions for comfort on the railroad-tie seats and to come early with a pre-show picnic. As far as the age range goes, "babes in arms" are fine with Geer. "We love any age here. We want it to be a family experience."
The company's 12th annual summer repertory season also includes "Macbeth" (June 12-Sept. 18), Moliere's "Educated Women" (July 2-Aug. 21) and Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (Aug. 13-Sept. 18).
\o7 * "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, Saturdays, 3 p.m., June 11-July 16. Adults, $12; ages 6 to 12, $4; age 5 and under, free. (310) 455-3723.\f7
It Was Their Idea: Members of Kids on Stage, a children's theater arts program for ages 3 to 16, chose peace as the theme for their series of one-act plays, "Imagining Peace," beginning today at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble under the direction of Elaine Hall Katz.
The plays, conceived, written and performed by children, are about family peace, global peace and yes, even peace in outer space.
* \o7 Today\f7 -\o7 Thursday and June 6, 4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Admission: Donation of clothing or canned food for the Red Cross. Reservations: (310) 473-4088.