A Midsummer Nights Dream
By William Shakespeare
This magical play interweaves four separate plots and four groups of characters. Theseus, the Duke of Athens,
and Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons - representing law and reason.
Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander - four young lovers standing on the boundaries of the law. Lysander and Hermia refuse to accept Theseus' laws forcing them to marry against their will and plan to escape. Although the lovers have one foot in the conventional world of Athens, the play forces them to confront their own irrational and erotic sides as they move temporarily
into the forest outside Athens.
This irrational; magical world is the realm of the third group of characters: the fairies. Ruled by Titania and Oberon, the enchanted inhabitants of the forest celebrate the poetic and the beautiful. While this world provides an enticing accommodation for the lovers, it's also
dangerous. All the traditional boundaries break down when the lovers are lost in the woods.
In the play's fourth plot layer, we see the adventures of the Mechanicals' (Ounce, Bottom, Snug, Flute, Snout and Starveling) as they cast and rehearse their version of the play Pyramus and Thisbe to perform in celebration of Theseus' wedding in the final scene, the play has come full circle.
The lovers are truly matched and the Mechanicals' perform their play to entertain Theseus and his wedding guests. The play is the most hilarious mixture of valiant endeavour and 'ham acting'. Theseus is intrigued and argues that even the best actors create only a brief illusion: the worst must be assisted by an imaginative audience.
The play ends with Puck's final speech, in which he proposes that A Midsummer Night's Dream was indeed no more than ... just a dream.
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!'