Midsummer in Newtown

Staging Shakespeare in a town still reeling from a mass shooting

Guns! Remember, there’s a gun somewhere waiting for you to use it to protect schoolchildren from grizzlies. Meanwhile, Lloyd Kramer’s documentary Midsummer in Newtown looks at how some citizens of Newtown, Conn., attempted to heal after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. The healing came in the form of a pop-rock musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Sandy Hook students — particularly the scene-stealing Tain and Samantha, each of whom lost loved ones in the shooting — performed onstage alongside Broadway professionals. (The show’s director refers to Dream as Shakespeare’s “best known and best-loved play,” though Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet might beg to differ on that point.) Midsummer in Newtown is much more about the difficulty of moving on after a tragedy than it is a disquisition on the nature of that tragedy. The film dances delicately around the subject of guns, and one parent puts the right to own them on equal footing with the right to protect children from violence. That is their prerogative, and whatever one’s position on the subject — especially those of us in bubbles where the Second Amendment is at most an abstract concept — Midsummer in Newtown is unquestionably moving.

Midsummer in Newtown
Not rated. Opens Friday at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

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