As you follow the long path through the dark night, there are dragons and camels made of towering flowers, and lights that shine upwards at the trees, making them appear as giants. The sounds of babbling brooks are soon replaced with babbling people, gathered together under a soaring archway. Soon the crowd pours into the stage, filling the circle to sit under tall white palm branches showered in purple lights. By the time the actors take the stage, you feel as if you are a small sprite in a forest.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men merely players,” is quite literally the motto of the Alliance Theater’s take on the Shakespearean classic A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The theater, which is celebrating its 50 anniversary has temporarily moved its setting from its normal house in the Woodruff center to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
The move comes as a result of renovations within the Woodruff Center, but the famous theater company did not miss a beat, opting to do a rendition of Midsummer in the place Shakespeare always meant for it to be: outside.
The great outdoors come with their own unexpected challenges, though, and as rain threatened on the night of October 9th, I was sure that the show would be cancelled and all the wonder lost. I could not be more wrong. The constant sprinkling of showers on the audience only added to the feelings of being somewhere that was not Atlanta. The sounds of cicadas added in their own symphony as well, pairing well with the musical numbers.
What really made the show incredible, though, was the lead actress Courtney Patterson. The play was actually three plays within one. A group of gardeners that is preparing for a wedding is tasked with putting on a play for the wedding guests. It just so happens that the play they are performing is Midsummer. The gardeners are lead by Petunia Prune, played by Courtney Patterson, a charming leader who picks the best rolls for all of her staff. Ms. Prune goes on to play Titania, the queen of fairies, as well as Puck, Oberon’s sidekick sprite. Her flawless execution of three different characters is breathtaking to behold, and carries the show to a whole new level.
The story is full of funny contemporary references, sexual innuendos, original musical numbers, and a group of actors that are so relatable, that the audience feels as if they are friends with the characters. The production has created an atmosphere that is enjoyable to both regular theater goers and first timers alike.
Tickets cost $50 per person, and most nights are already sold out, so visit https://alliancetheatre.org/production/2018-19/a-midsummer-nights-dream#section--about-show to get tickets as soon as possible.