Bottom is a vain and irritating braggart who's constantly demanding attention. He was played by Dennis R. Elkins in a way that audibly delighted the children in the audience but seemed to me so unnuanced and uncentered that I started dreading his entrances. Bottom may be a buffoon, but he's more than that. As a character, he needs...not gravitas, certainly, but weight. More bottom, if you will. He's the only human character in Dream who can interact with the fairies, and he accepts their existence with an almost sublime lack of surprise. Some actors have given Bottom flashes of wonder or even humility, particularly at the moment when he wakes from his enchantment, but Elkins plays for shallow laughs throughout.
I think my favorite of the tradesmen was Snug, played by understudy Nathan Markiewicz on the night I saw Dream, because he brought a certain innocence and restraint to the role. I also liked Michael Pocaro as Quince. And Eric Wetz had some very funny moments as Wall.
Sarah Lauren Fallon and Dennis R. Elkins perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with Macbeth, Richard III and Shakespeare in Briefs Through August 18 303-492-0554, www.coloradoshakes.org
Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, University of Colorado campus, Boulder
I might have preferred a less broadly farcical interpretation of the role, but Sheryle Wells was a funny Helena; she brought a lot of vitality to the lovers' scenes. Neither she nor Elizabeth Tanner, who plays Hermia, has the ideal vocal range for Shakespeare. Demetrius and Lysander are almost indistinguishable characters, and they're given solid interpretations by Jeremy Clark and R.W. Smith.
What this production lacks is simplicity, elegance and flow.