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DREAM A LITTLE `DREAM' AT OLD GLOBE.

Byline: EVAN HENERSON Theater Critic

Another summer, another ``Midsummer.''

In this rendition, the quartet of lovers who chase each other all over the woods wear Athens Academy school uniforms (they've just graduated from high school, dontchaknow). Duke Theseus (J. Paul Boehmer) and Hippolyta (Lise Bruneau) are a randy pair, the Amazon queen in particular. She has an eye patch and snaps her riding crop like a practiced dominatrix.

Their fairy world incarnations, Oberon and Titania, manage to work out their differences, but it takes some magic flowers and an ass-headed Bottom (Jonathan Peck) to reach that resolution. The rude mechanicals? Oh, count on them to deliver the goods when the curtain rises on the play within a play, ``Pyramus and Thisbe,'' one of classic drama's surefire laugh-getters.

Little Puck, meanwhile, is a cherubic-looking preteen who makes faces at Oberon when the king's back is turned and has had huge chunks of his glorious speeches absolutely gutted. Whether this trim job is director Darko Tresnjak's unstated acknowledgment that 12-year-old Michael Drummond may not be quite up to the role, or simply a way of moving things along, I'll leave for others to decide.

Tresnjak's ''Midsummer'' contains occasional flashes of cheekiness -- as if the director is emptying the bag of tricks he used to far better effect in ``Titus Andronicus'' -- but the delights are inconsistent.

Productions of this play can be downright magical, heavy on the comedy, sexed up (often weirdly) or downright sinister. Tresnjak seems to be going for a little bit of all of the above, hitting the occasional double but never leaving the park.

That said, ``Midsummer'' remains a tough play to ruin, no matter how much tinkering anyone attempts. Highlights in this production include a quite wonderful lullaby dance by Titania's attendant fairies, some frisky school-kid ardor by Hermia (Eve Danzeisen) and Lysander (Owiso Odera), Tom Snout's (Chip Brooks) portrayal of Wall in ``Pyramus and Thisbe'' and some gorgeous costume work by Paloma Young.

If the Globe's three Shakespearean offerings are viewed consecutively, it is recommended that ``Midsummer'' be seen last. After the misery of ``Othello'' and the cracked horror/comedy of ``Titus,'' mixed-up lovers, mechanicals and fairies in the forest make for a welcome respite.

Taken on their own, well, you can find ``Dreams'' more pleasant.

Evan Henerson, (818) 713-3651

evan.henerson(at)dailynews.com

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - Two and one half stars

Where: Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park, San Diego.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, in rotating repertory. Call for specific performance dates.

Tickets: $49 to $59. (619) 234-5623, www.TheOldGlobe.org

In a nutshell: Shakespeare's trustiest comedic war horse, energetically if not too originally played.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

J. Paul Boehmer is Oberon and Lisa Bruneau is Titania -- the fairy king and queen -- in the perennial Shakespearean favorite ``A Midsummer Night's Dream,'' at San Diego's Old Globe.
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Title Annotation:Travel
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 13, 2006
Words:476
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