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Shakespeare Speaks to Kids

Kids' giggles greet 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

March 27, 1997|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What's a 4-year-old's idea of a good time? Shakespeare may not be on your short list, but the Children's Theater Project in Encino thinks otherwise. It is ending its third season of children's theater at the Encino Community Center with a very condensed but true-to-the-text adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The company's confidence isn't misplaced either, judging by the response from the mostly 4- to 6-year-olds at Saturday's performance.

Oh, sure, one little guy nodded off on his blue-and-white striped mat less than a third of the way into this decidedly low-budget, no-frills version of Shakespeare's magical romp in the woods. But wide eyes and periodic giggles attested to the fact that most of the pint-sized play-goers were caught up in the tale about fairy mischief and a quartet of enchanted lovers (two of whom are played here by puppets).

Under Brian Hall's simple in-the-round direction, the adult actors come and go beneath a parachute-silk canopy set over the small performance and seating area. But not before audience volunteers are chosen to play fairies and members of the acting company. The eight-member company fills in the rest of the cast by doubling up on roles and by using puppets to play Hermia, her stern father and other roles.

* "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Encino Community Center, 4935 Balboa Blvd., Saturdays, 1 p.m. through April 5. $5. (818) 995-1690. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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