You can’t drop love potions into a plot without undercurrents from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Typically, too, protagonists with special powers mean they’re grappling with dual natures and secret identities. Both tropes percolate plainly but gently beneath all the mystical happenings in “Bell, Book and Candle” for a delicious alchemical romance.
Line of the night: “Don’t you know what it always says on love potions? ‘Shake well, and don’t tell,’ ” Nick advises, too late, to his sister-witch Gillian.
Strengths: The play is from the 1950s. Furnishings in Gillian’s New York apartment look plucked from the modish ’60s as do costume designer Melissa Heller’s eye-popping sport coats, housedresses and backcombed wigs. Topping it off, Palmer adopts a nostalgic ’40s movie tone, which weirdly cements everything.
Palmer, artistic director for Bag & Baggage, exits his post early next year for a new gig in Sun Valley, Idaho. His out-of-the-box picks for holiday plays, from “Twelfth Night of the Living Dead” one Halloween to non-traditional Christmas stories like “Bell, Book and Candle,” will surely be missed.