William Shakespeare plagued you from orientation to graduation. You glanced at him as he sat on the cover of his works, coiffed and cocky, with a smug smile that said, "I know what you're in for, but I don't want to spoil all the fun." Arrogant jerk. Agonizingly lyrical prose, randomly inserted apostrophes, characters who wax on about whatever, act after act after act. And these are supposed to be funny? Here's the thing about the funny: Shakespeare wrote plays, and when they're acted out they're funny. Reading them is like trying to read the screenplay of a Charlie Chaplin flick.
Stage West's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream--Shakespeare's comedy about eloping lovers, quarreling fairies and bumbling actors--will have barnyard animal-loving, double entendre-getting, pun-obsessed patrons laughing their britches off for a few air-conditioned hours. Director Jim Covault's interpretation, which was relocated from a larger theater to a smaller one for a more intimate setting (because there's nothing that needs intimacy like anthropomorphic asses and malevolent fairies), takes advantage of Shakespeare's caricature-ish lovers by having eight actors not only play all the parts, but interchange roles with each other throughout the show...for comedy. If you're afraid of getting confused about who's who and what's what and what the hell is going on here, don't worry: The lovers are all interchangeable anyway, and you should be able to spot a guy turned into a donkey by the fact that he looks like a donkey. It's Shakespeare, but it's a cuddly, easygoing kind of Shakespeare.