ALAMEDA -- One happy reintroduction to William Shakespeare's work could be with the romp by 25 Alameda High School students at Alameda High School's Frederick L. Chacon Little Theater. This romp is titled "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
It was written by Shakespeare to be an entertainment at a wedding of two nobles, so the play is full of love. Duke Theseus, played by Sharif Mounzih, has fallen so in love with the charming queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, that he plans a big wedding with her in four days. Gabrielle Obando, as Hippolyta, appears to be pleased with the plan.
But into their enjoyment of one another an older man, Egeus (Nick Hargrave), bursts in, so furious with his daughter, Hermia, that he wants Theseus to sentence her to death. Mackenzie Cala, as Hermia, has fallen in love with Lysander (outstandingly played by Emmett Kaake), but Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius (Erik Van Winkle). Lysander is mostly quiet during the proceedings, but he has a plan. He later asks Hermia if she will elope with him tonight. Of course, she agrees.
Demetrius now loves Hermia, but he once loved beautiful Helena (Drew Mitchell) -- who still loves him. Theseus, too much in love to order an execution, gives Hermia four days to change her mind and marry Demetrius. That night, Hermia and Lysander run away through a forest. Helena and Demetrius follow close behind.
But this is Midsummer Night's Eve -- the middle night of the year. It is a special time when magic abounds. Invisible fairies, brightly dressed (in AHS student-made costumes), run around the theater and the stage, dancing while Alexa Le, Le Anne Chan and Ada Hoch-Schneider sing in lovely three-part harmony.
The king and queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, are as invisible as their subjects. Tanner DeKock and Julia Bergamaschi, playing this royal couple, argue violently about a baby that Titania has, but whom Oberon wants to be his attendant.
When Titania falls asleep, Puck, one fairy who is particularly active -- running, jumping, doing hand springs -- is called by Oberon for a special assignment. Puck, played by Rachel Menendez, is particularly loyal to Oberon. And Puck loves to play tricks on others.
Oberon has a flower with a special nectar that, when put into the eyes of anyone sleeping, will make him or her fall madly in love with any living thing he or she sees upon awakening. He tells Puck to put the nectar into the eyes of Titania, which he does -- but while leaping around, Puck finds Lysander and Demetrius also asleep, and puts the nectar into their eyes, too.
Of course, Lysander and Demetrius are greatly confused upon awakening, but Titania is even more confused. She has fallen in love with Nick Bottom, who Puck has given the head of an ass.
Bottom is one of seven tradesmen who are rehearsing a play to be performed at Theseus' wedding party. The writer-director of these would-be actors, Peter Quince (Cosmo Walrath) must patiently cope with those who don't like the roles to which they have been assigned. (Perhaps Shakespeare was satirizing his own problems as a writer and director.)
Bottom, played by Joseph Ruck, is the most eager of the actors. He wants to play all the roles. Actually, the role of an ass is more appropriate than the role he has been assigned -- the loving hero of Quince's play, "Pyramus and Thisby."
All ends well, of course. Lovers are united and reunited, and the angry father, Egeus, is sent away. Quince's play is more or less performed, and Puck bids us all a fond farewell.
True, in Alameda it is now midwinter. But "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has left its audience happily melted into the magic of this enchanted midsummer night.
What: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare
Who: Alameda High School's drama department directed by Frederick L. Chacon
When: 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday
Where: Frederick L. Chacon Little Theater, Alameda High School
Tickets: $8 to $10 at the door