The Arb makes a spectacular stage. When Puck, sent by Oberon to retrieve the magic flower, took off through the woods, he didn't just run offstage; we watched him until he was clear out of sight, his voice floating back from a distance. The lovers Puck bewitches had plenty of room to chase each other till they fell exhausted on the grass. Fairies (played by students from Emerson School) flitted among the trees ahead of us as we followed the actors from one part of the wood to another to see the clowns rehearse their play, the fairy queen wake and fall foolishly in love with Bottom the weaver, and the lovers get thoroughly confused about who is in love with whom.
The Arb's Peony Garden and real woods, plus the camaraderie of the walks between acts, gave the play a dimension that no stage set can match. Last year the actors performed with gusto and did a remarkable job of both speaking with clarity and projecting their voices so that they could easily be heard no small feat in the open air. We'll be there again this year.
[Originally published in June, 2002.]