Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is perfect for a secluded valley of vernal delights like the Raleigh Rose Garden. An up-and-coming community theater group, Seed Art Share, largely capitalizes on the space in its co-production with Raleigh Little Theatre.
Co-directors Ian Finley and Sue Scarborough split the difference between humans and faeries in this oft-told comedy of love and jealousy—and theatrical incompetence, by way of historically bad actors the Rude Mechanicals and their play-within-a-play, Pyramus and Thisbe.
Talents old and new mingle in this engaging production. Brent Wilson is a commanding Theseus, and Nan Stephenson convinces as Egeus, mother to Helena (Laura Levine), an Athenian maid in love with the wrong boy.
Jess Barbour ably takes on the loveless Hermia, Helena's friend and romantic foil, as they and their swains, George Labusohr's Lysander and Ryan Ladue's Demetrius, fall under the sway of faerie royalty (Sarah Winter's Titania and Benn May's more cosplay-like Oberon) in a nearby forest. Sarajo Berman's choreography for a phalanx of elementary-school sprites, to rustic tunes from Nick Johnson's band, casts a spell all its own.
Mike Raab gets laughs as a boisterous Bottom, lead actor among the Rude Mechs. Philostrate (Tim Cherry) and Quince (Lorelei Mellon) withstand the bumbling efforts of overeager Snout (Tanner Lagasca), a hipster Starveling (Dustin Britt), a stoner Snug (Amy Sawyers) and Flute (Allan Maule).