If “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is only as enchanting as a production’s take on the mischievous fairy Puck and bumbling actor Bottom, then Synetic Theater is fortunate to count spellbinding performances from Ariel Kraje and Vato Tsikurishvili among its assets.
Sprinkling the proceedings with fairy dust, pantomiming prowess and loose-limbed contortion, the blue-painted Kraje makes for an endlessly appealing Puck. She’s at her best when she’s twisting herself on the ends of invisible puppet strings or needling fellow fairies with Puck’s aw-shucks antics. But Kraje even charms while observing from afar, delighting in the lunacy of others while perched on the crescent moon in the glowing woodland set of scenic designer Anastasia Rurikov Simes.
The son of “Midsummer” director Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili, Vato Tsikurishvili imbues Bottom with wide-eyed intensity and impressive acrobatics, plus uncanny control of seemingly every muscle in his face. Tsikurishvili’s comic timing is particularly sharp in the climactic play within a play, when he’s bouncing off the charming, gender-bending take on Flute by Katherine DuBois. The starring turn has been a long time coming for Tsikurishvili, who played other members of the hapless acting troupe in Synetic’s past stagings of “Midsummer” but commands the stage here with such authority that it’s tough to imagine him ever taking a back seat.
With each “Midsummer” storyline comes fresh flourishes. The otherworldly quarrels of Oberon (Philip Fletcher, reprising his role) and Titania (Stella Bunch), the fairy king and queen, are staged with animalistic vigor. That stands in stark contrast to the ballroom elegance and raunchy, rough-and-tumble scrapping delivered by the lovesick Lysander (Lev Belopiletski), Hermia (Nutsa Tediashvili), Demetrius (Aaron Kan) and Helena (Anna Tsikurishvili, a master of floundering flirtation). Bottom’s acting troupe, meanwhile, provides low comedy of the highest order, as the bickering performers rehearse their play with a heaping dose of vaudevillian slapstick.
The immaculate costumes from Simes, ranging from steampunk chic to black-tie attire and rustic outerwear, further differentiates the three threads. The same can be said for Andrew Griffin’s savvy lighting, grandiose for the magical beings yet grounded for the mere mortals, and Konstantine Lortkipanidze’s genre-splicing score, which includes driving dubstep, ragtime piano and “Bridgerton”-esque instrumental pop covers.
That last musical touch is particularly fitting for this sensual storytelling feat, as Synetic reimagines one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays with wordless elegance. A decade after first attempting that delicate dance, this “Midsummer” still knows how to cast a spell.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili. Choreography, Irina Tsikurishvili; fight choreography Ben Cunis; scenic design, costumes and props, Anastasia Rurikov Simes; lighting, Andrew Griffin; music and sound design, Konstantine Lortkipanidze; design associates, Kasey Brown, Aleksandr Shiriaev and Paul Callahan. With Irene Hamilton, Kim Ahn Aslanian, Alissa Zagorski, Nathan Weinberger, Pablo Guillén, Josh Lucas and Bengt Erik Nelson. Through July 24 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. About 110 minutes. $20 to $60. synetictheater.org.