STAGE REVIEW : Shakespeare and Mother Nature--a Winning Team

Fullerton College has chosen an ideal setting for its atmospheric "A Midsummer Night's Dream"--sprawling Tri-City Park in Placentia.

This isn't just some temporary stage raised in an open field. Gary Krinke's mercurial production covers acres of territory from the lakeside bridges to the snaking stream to the patches of trees that grace the park. The program names "mother nature" as the scenic designer.

Each scene--and there are many in Shakespeare's bawdy comedy of forest nymphs, fickle love and mortal foibles--is played out in a separate locale, to which attendants in Medieval costumes lead the audience by lantern light over small hills and through thickets. Once you are settled in, the action is lit only by those same lanterns and, if you are lucky, by moonlight.

The college advises everyone to bring warm clothes (there's an 11 p.m. chill to guard against), a blanket to sit on, and "comfortable walking shoes." It is worth it. This show is a sensual charmer, laced with surprises and moody visuals.

The environmental effect is so nice (just wandering through the park, softly electric under those lamps, is its own reward) that it is easy to overlook the youthfulness of the student players. This is not to say that the acting misses Shakespeare's ribald intent, or flops with the gaudy characters. There could be more finesse, but the entire cast brings plenty of zest to all the goings-on.

Irma Ramirez's Hermia is completely spunked out, whether warding off the advances of Lysander (Dirk Rogers) or dunking the equally infatuated Demetrius (Jeff Brown) in the stream. Rogers' Lysander is hormone-rich, enthralled by Hermia--but by no means opposed to the idea of making time with the boisterous Helena (Julie Guevara), who just happens to dig Demetrius.

Guevara and Brown, with their tireless running about, generate much of the show's comedy, as does Danny Moreno as the hee-hawing Bottom. Tracy McWain's Titania is lusty (as is the peek-a-boo costume in which Mela Hoyt-Heydon wraps her) and imperial, and all the attendant fairies are, appropriately, jumpy wise guys.

"A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM"

A Fullerton College production (in conjunction with the Tri-City Park Authority) of William Shakespeare's comedy. Directed by Gary Krinke. With Nick Boicourt Jr., David Fowell, Dirk Rogers, Jeff Brown, Voiza Melissa Arnold, Steve Spehar, Danny Moreno, Matt Lillard, Kyle Myers, Charlie Reeves, Greg Fosmire, Cammie Eggert, Jill Glassey, Gina Maffioli, Irma Ramirez, Julie Guevara, Royce Reynolds, Brad Whitfield, Dick Prelitz, Tracy McWain, Robee Barritt, Peter Leyra, Miah Smith, Jorri Northrop, Lisa Evans, Stephanie Schmit, Nikki Nay, Heather Boag, Jennifer Miles, Jenny Bruce and Kristen McDaniel. Costumes by Mela Hoyt-Heydon. Plays today and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Tri-City Park at Kraemar Boulevard and Golden Avenue, Placentia. Tickets: $4 and $6. (714) 871-8101.

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