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Arts Agenda - Harvest moon

Choosing early autumn to stage A Midsummer Night's Dream seems to put a spell across the Georgia Shakespeare Festival's wild and unconventional production. The comedy's supernatural scenes and characters have stepped out of fertility rites: The fairies are ragged, lascivious and spattered with paint and mud, while the musician Klimchak plays evocative, rhythmic percussion (and the occasional cartoon sound effect) throughout.
The alien weirdness of the fairy characters keeps them from being very funny, although Saxon Palmer gives Puck an anarchic physicality — he even raps one of his speeches. Otherwise, Richard Garner's production has plenty of laughs, especially with the four young, mismatched lovers (Megan Cramer, Damon Boggess, Joe Knezevich and Tara Ochs) whose private-school uniforms get reduced to shreds when a love potion goes awry.
Jonathan Davis plays Bottom as a sharpie with a cell phone and proves especially amusing in the mock-tragic role as Pyramus: He enunciates his lines like William Shatner as Romeo. Enjoyable as the actors are, the physical design provides Dream's most impressive qualities, especially Mark Pirolo's costumes (some fairies are masked like creepy carnival clowns) and Rochelle Barker's ingenious set that replicates the surface of the moon. The GSF's off-beat take on Shakespeare's comedy doesn't so much leave you laughing as haunted by images that literally seem like the stuff that dreams are made of.
A Midsummer Night's Dream plays through Nov. 5 at the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, 4484 Peachtree Road, with performances at 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. and 2 and 8 p.m. Sun. $20-$26.50. 404-264-0020.



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