21 May 2010

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy in five acts with incidental music.

Written by William Shakespeare. Incidental music by Felix Mendelssohn (Op. 61).

Dramatis Personæ:

Theseus, Duke of Athens
Egeus, Father to Hermia
Demetrius, in love with Hermia
Philostrate, Master of the Revels to Theseus
Quince, a carpenter
Snug, a joiner
Bottom, a weaver
Flute, a bellows-mender
Snout, a tinker
Starveling, a tailor
Hippolyta, Queen of The Amazons, betrothed to Theseus
Hermia, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander
Helena, in love with Demetrius
Oberon, King of the Fairies
Titania, Queen of the Fairies
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow
Mustard-Seed, Faires


Egeus orders his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius; she refuses because she and Lysander are in love. Her friend Helena is in love with Demetrius, who once loved her but now does not. Under the law of Athens, Duke Theseus gives Hermia four days to obey her father on pain of death or confinement to a nunnery. Hermia and Lysander escape this harsh law by running away to the woods. Demetrius pursues them there, with Helena pursing him. In the woods, Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of fairies, have quarreled because Titania refuses to hand over an Indian changeling boy to be Oberon's page. Oberon instructs the mischievous Puck, Robin Goodfellow, to press the juice of a magic flower on Titania’s eyes as she sleeps; it will make her fall in love with the first being she sees on waking. In an attempt to reconcile The dangerous eroticism of the play, with a queen kissing a humble weaver who wears the ears of an ass, was further emphasized in Michael Boyd’s 1999 production, with Josette Simon as Titania and Daniel Ryan as Bottom, Demetrius and Helena, Oberon orders that juice should be put on his eyes whilst he is sleeping and she is near, but Robin mistakenly puts it on Lysander, who thus falls in love with Helena. She thinks she is being mocked. Love-juice is then placed on Demetrius’ eyes in order to rectify the mistake, but the result is that he too falls for Helena. The boys fight over her and the girls quarrel. While Titania has been sleeping, a company of Athenian artisans under the leadership of Peter Quince has come to the wood to rehearse a play for the ensuing wedding festivities of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Robin puts an ass’s head on Bottom the weaver and because of the love-juice Titania falls in love with him. Eventually all is restored to right and the artisans perform their comically tragic play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’.

[Summary Source: RSC Shakespeare]

[Click here for the complete play]