Last night, I attended Midsummer: A Banquet, a wonderful new production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (with food!) that is a co-production of Food for Love and Third Rail Productions.
Last year, Food for Love presented Shake & Bake: Love's Labour's Lost in the meatpacking district. Victoria Rae Sook, who played the Princess of France in that production, returns to play Hippolyta and Titania in Midsummer. This production doesn't provide quite as much food as the last one, but it delivers on all the laughs and romance that made Love's Labour's Lost one of my favorite productions of last year.
Instead of being in the meatpacking district, Midsummer is across the street from the Strand Bookstore in Greenwich Village. The historic building where the play is performed (which once housed the studio of Willem De Kooning) has been transformed into Cafe Fae, an Art Nouveau restaurant that becomes an enchanted forest as well. The small cast deftly performs multiple roles while also managing to serve the audience a tasting menu that includes antipasti, a forest picnic, and "fairy kababs" which fortunately are not made of actual fairies.
Zach Morris directed and choreographed this production. I had seen some of his choreography years ago, and I was delighted to find that his work is as imaginative and emotionally engaging as ever. Music and dance are woven seamlessly into the production, and part of the fun is watching the cast sing and play instruments as well as act an incredibly physical Shakespearean drama only a few feet behind even the furthest seat in this intimate space.
Summer is winding down now, so make sure you see this production soon. Tickets are currently on sale through the beginning of September, but you'll definitely want to catch the show before in vanishes into the mists of a magical forest.