Later, when Puck, sent by Oberon to retrieve the magic flower that will cause so much mischief, took off through the woods, he didn't just run off stage; we watched him run far away. His voice floated 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 faerie queen wake and fall foolishly in love with Bottom the weaver, and the lovers get thoroughly confused about who is in love with whom. Shakespeare's fantasies were coming to life all around us.
The Arb is a perfect setting for an enchanting play on a summer afternoon or evening. The peony garden, the live woods, the camaraderie on the walks between acts give the play a dimension that no stage set can provide. Last year the actors performed with gusto and did a remarkable job both of speaking with clarity and projecting their voices so that they could easily be heard--no small feat in the open air. We're planning to go again.
[Originally published in June, 2010.]