Developed through workshops under Tim Robbins' direction, this inspired production of Shakespeare's fantasia A Midsummer Night's Dream snaps and crackles with the comedic shenanigans of a dynamic ensemble. Visual spectacle, so often integral when this piece is produced, here takes a back seat; instead, the performers merrily cavort across a setless stage, relying on costumes, original music (by composer David Robbins), sound and their own imaginations to underscore the magic of Shakespeare's text. Fourteen players double and sometimes triple up on their roles. For example, Will McFadden plays an ardent Lysander, an addled Snug — one of the journeymen players — and a mincing fairy, gliding from one part to another with effortless ease. Standouts include Mary O'Neill as a ruefully endearing Helena and Adam Jefferis, whose clownish Demetrius seems to engage the world from some blithe state of arrested development. The laughs are collectively spun as well: When Titania (Sabra Williams) purrs and pets her ass, the underling fairies nod their approval, then turn away with waggish distaste. Amidst the antics it is Bob Turton who deservedly gleans the most laughs as fatuous Bottom. Despite the clowning, the beauty of Shakespeare's language is never lost, while his benevolent cast on human frailty stays crystal clear.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 28, 8 p.m. Starts: Aug. 15. Continues through Aug. 28, 2013

LA Weekly