If you are a William Shakespeare’s fan, you should watch the new A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM film, with screenplay and direction by Casey Wilder Mott.

As you know, this is the tale of two couples whose love stories are altered by fantastic spirit creatures, as well as the account of a group of amateur actors wanting to put on a show. One of such actors, Nick Bottom, has become one of Shakespeare’s most popular characters.

This production of A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM takes all sorts of artistic licenses and turns The Bard’s famous story into something quite modern and that, particularly for us in Los Angeles, looks amazingly familiar. In the film you’ll see Echo Park and its surroundings (hipsters included), the woods of Topanga Canyon, the Hollywood sign (or is it the Athens’ sign?), and gorgeous views of the ocean from the Malibu hills.

Perhaps the biggest license is taken when Bottom (played by Fran Kranz) is given an actual human behind/bottom/butt for a head, rather than the ass’s head (as in donkey) that Shakespeare gave him. (It is funny, although I must say quite unattractive.) Bottom is here part of a group of actors trying to get a film reviewed by a major Hollywood producer, and they tell the story of Pyramus and Thisbe while wearing Star Wars costumes.

My original interest in this film sparked when I learned that Hamish Linklater would play Lysander. Fresh from seeing him as Prince Hal in the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ recent production of Henry IV (in which, honestly, he was the best out of the famous cast), I wanted to see what he would do with this romantic role. Once upon a time I knew Linklater only as the funny actor on TV’s The New Adventures of Old Christine. Now I know that he is a solid thespian, who has been performing Shakespeare since he was eight years old. His Lysander delivery does not disappoint.

A second welcomed surprise was to see Alan Blumenfeld perform as Egeus. Blumenfeld is a prolific stage actor in Los Angeles, whom I often see in theaters like Theatricum Botanicum and A Noise Within.

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Mia Doi Todd (left) as Titania and Saul Williams (right) as Oberon in Casey Wilder Mott’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Photo by Greg Smith.

 

The film has a fabulous soundtrack created by Los Angeles artist Mia Doi Todd, who also performs as Titania. She collaborates with rapper Saul Williams (playing Oberon), in songs like “Philomel with Melody” and “Through this House,” which are totally worth listening to. You will be a fan of these artists once you watch this film.

Overall, I’m willing to guess that Shakespeare himself would have a blast watching this version of his famous play. He would, I trust, crack up to see that his “damned spot” turned out to be a dog on a couch!

A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTS DREAM will screen in San Diego on August 10 and on various dates and locations throughout the country in the upcoming month. Check the screening schedule here.

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