FALMOUTH — Maine State Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is delectable. Artistic director Linda Miele’s choreography and staging tell Shakespeare’s sometimes-confusing story with impressive clarity, with nothing apparently missing from the interwoven plot lines.

Furthermore, she’s achieved a lyrical lightness, sustained throughout both dramatic and humorous sequences, to match the spirit of the play and Felix Mendelssohn’s hauntingly beautiful music (some written for the play and other pieces traditionally added for the ballet).

The story centers on two mortal couples, and the fairy manipulations that create romantic havoc followed by a happy ending.

As the ballet opens, Hermia (Rebecca Purser) has been ordered to marry Demetrius (Glenn Davis) instead of the man she loves, Lysander (Frederick Bernier). Helena (Janet Davis) loves Demetrius, but he wants to marry Hermia.

Angry with his queen, Titania (Katie Skog), fairy king Oberon (Ron Trell) commands his servant Puck (Michael Holden) to use a love potion to make her fall in love with a beast. Taking pity on Helena, Oberon also asks Puck to bewitch Demetrius to love her.

Friday’s preview was enchanting, in both performance and production quality. Gail Csoboth’s costumes and scenery, with lighting by Bernier, created a mystical, dreamlike forest for the fairy kingdom. In shades of blue, purple and green, the fairies almost blended with the forest, suggesting their ephemeral nature: unseen but sensed by the mortal characters.

The fairy corps de ballet danced sweepingly in chiffon-winged dresses, with tiny barefoot Sprites (several giggling spontaneously and charmingly) trailing after the dancers on pointe.

Kate Hamilton, Katie Farwell, Tyler Winslow and Christina Williams performed variations (set to additional music by Alexander Glazunov) with sprite-like quickness, before the fairies fell asleep in beautiful tableaux.

Skog’s Titania was regal and pretty, with warmth in her humorous partnering with Nathaniel Dombek as Nick Bottom, the weaver changed to a donkey by Puck.

Holden was a very puckish Puck, believably delighting in the mix-ups he created. His sequences with Pixies Elizabeth Dragoni and Anyssa Pollak were lovely.

The two central couples were beautifully performed by Purser, Bernier and the Davises, with equal measures of exquisite dancing — especially in Purser’s breathtaking line and lifts with Bernier — and very effective acting. They were realistically spellbound by Holden, making him seem truly invisible while he manipulated them.

While the two men went through romantic confusion after Puck’s potion mishaps, the dancing was edge-of-seat absorbing. At one point, Glenn Davis literally threw aside Janet Davis in pursuit of Purser, in a striking lift-turned-toss to Bernier.

At the Maine State Ballet Theater, the stage area is very close to the seating. This presents staging challenges but also benefits, including the visibility of the dancers’ facial expressions. Here, large-scale pantomime was blended with subtle expression, such as when Janet Davis’ bright eyes were subtly dimmed by unrequited love, then confused after Puck’s mischief, and finally joyous.

The production included Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play, sometimes left out of ballet versions but essential for introducing Nick Bottom.

This gave the audience a welcome opportunity to enjoy Jonathan Miele’s stage-stealing acting as leader Peter Quince. His interplay with the players (Newton Curtis, Boomer Druchniak, Maiki Saito and Dombek) was commanding and hilarious.

The ballet ended with all the right couples reunited, in a joint wedding for the mortals (to the majestic Mendelssohn piece popularly known as the “Wedding March”) and Titania’s reconciliation with Oberon.

Puck’s emblematic verbal summation was necessarily missing, but Holden fittingly took the final bow for a “good night unto you all.”

 

Jennifer Brewer is a freelance writer, teacher, musician and dancer who lives in Saco.