Joy and laughter: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ shows Wednesday at Sierra Cinemas |

Joy and laughter: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ shows Wednesday at Sierra Cinemas

Sandra Rockman
Special to The Union

Know & Go

WHO: Sierra Cinemas Presents National Theatre Live

WHAT: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Sierra Cinemas, E. Main Street Grass Valley

TICKETS: $18 adults, $15 seniors, children 12 and under & students with ID; available online at or at the Sierra Cinemas Box Office

INFO: or call 530-477-9000

“Ridiculous and glorious” is an apt description of the new National Theatre of London’s offering of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” produced by the Bridge Theatre. It was shown last Thursday evening at Sierra Cinemas as part of the National Theatre of London’s broadcasts on movie screens across the globe. In an interview during “the interval” (or intermission), Nicholas Hytner, the brilliant director, describes his production as highlighting the ridiculous and glorious simultaneously. He’s got that right!

You know the story by now — the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (the mechanicals) who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest where most of the play is set. 

In this updated version, Hytner has placed the action in the middle of the theatre space with large groups of the audience standing around the small stages that rise and disappear as the plot and action evolves. This is “immersive” theatre at its best.

The time is the present day and the play’s styled wildness lends itself to the casting, costumes, modern sensibilities and foibles of The Here and Now. Hytner’s particular take makes Shakespeare relevant to younger generations and even the language more accessible to all.

For instance, at one point, the Mechanicals need a calendar to know when the moon is full so they ask the audience for help. A cell phone is handed up to the stage and… well, you’ll have to see the sheer silliness that ensues, yourself. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention the addition of the fabulously skilled aerialists, including our charming Puck character, above the action — dancing to the music and adding to the marvelous mayhem in all directions and dimensions.

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The cast is nothing but sensational. Oliver Chris, who was immensely funny in the recent showing of “One Man, Two Guvs,” plays both Duke Theseus and Oberon, King of the Fairies. Gwendolyn Christie (“Game of Thrones”) is the stately Hippolyta as well as the mischievous Queen Titania of the Fairies. But it is Hammed Animashaun as Bottom that steals the show – a big, broad-faced and skilled actor, he’s hilarious as one of the Rude Mechanicals and even funnier as the Ass he is turned into by the fairies’ machinations. The ensemble is a colorful mix of casting and the youthfulness of this group shines in energy and earnestness.

Without spoiling any surprises, let me just say that the play gets crazier and funnier as it goes along and is absolutely hilarious by the finale. One leaves the theater with a joyful fullness and a big smile on one’s face.

Don’t miss the matinee encore showing of this unique “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. at our Sierra Cinema, 840 E Main St, Grass Valley.

Sandra Rockman has been active in local theatre since 1978. She teaches classes in Acting and Improvisation. For more information, contact her at or 530-265-6514.

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