A quick summary of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for small scholars and the Shakespeare-shy:
This story takes place in Athens, Greece ‐ where everything is going wrong. The play starts in the court room of Duke Theseus. Theseus has won his soon-to-be wife, Hippolyta, in a battle. Even though she lost, she is okay with marrying him. They are both happy about the approaching wedding and can’t wait to get married. A woman named Lady Egeus enters, angry that she is having trouble with her daughter so she brings her to the Duke for help. Lady Egeus’s daughter, Hermia, doesn’t want to marry Demetrius ‐ the man her mother has arranged to have Hermia marry. Instead, Hermia wants to marry Lysander. Duke Theseus reminds Hermia that the law of Athens allows parents to make their daughters do anything. He tells her that her only other choice is to become a nun and never marry anyone or die as the law prescribes.
Because the duke gives them little choice, Lysander and Hermia decide to run away from Athens. They run into the woods to make plans. While they are in the woods, they run into Helena. Helena is Hermia’s best friend. She is sad because she loves Demetrius. Hermia wishes Demetrius would love Helena back ‐ then Hermia could marry Lysander and their problem would be solved! Hermia and Lysander leave for the woods and Helena decides to go tell Demetrius what they are up to so he will like her, Helena. Love sure is blind.
We meet the Rude Mechanicals, a group of tradesmen that are also amateur actors that will be performing for the Duke’s wedding party. Quince is the ‘director’ and Bottom, who thinks he’s the greatest actor that ever lived, as weand we meet all the other players as well. They will be rehearsing a play called “Pyramus and Thisbe,” a lamentable tragedy. Their problem is getting Bottom to stop directing and to see that he can only play one part, not all of them.
The fairies that live in the woods are also having problems. Oberon, the king of fairies, is angry at his queen, Titania. She is taking care of a little human boy and Oberon is jealous. He wants to take the boy to be his servant. Titania won’t let him so Oberon decides to play a trick on her. He asks his helper, Puck, to find a magical flower. The flower’s juices are supposed to make someone fall in love with the first thing they see. Oberon wants Puck to use the flower on Titania.
As night begins to fall, the lovers from Athens are all lost in the woods. Lysander and Hermia are still trying to run away. Demetrius chases them while Helena follows, begging him to love her back. Demetrius is mean to Helena and swears he will never love her. Oberon sees this and feels sorry for Helena. He decides to help her by using the magic flower on Demetrius too.
The Mechanicals have come to the woods to find a perfect spot to rehearse their play. Puck sees Nick Bottom and thinks it would be funny to make Queen Titania fall in love with him. While Titania is sleeping, Puck drops the magic juice into her eyes. Then Puck makes the joke even funnier by turning Nick Bottom’s head into a donkey head. All of the mechanicals are scared when they see Nick Bottom with a donkey head. They run away screaming. Titania wakes up and sees Bottom. She instantly falls in love with him. He takes it all in.
On his way back to King Oberon, Puck finds Lysander and Hermia sleeping. Puck thinks that Lysander is the man who needs the love drops. He is wrong! Puck accidentally makes Lysander fall in love with Helena. Helena is very confused, and Hermia is very mad. She thinks her best friend has stolen her boyfriend. Puck tries to fix things by putting the drops into Demetrius’s eyes. Now Demetrius loves Helena too! Helena is angry and thinks the men are teasing her. Hermia tries to fight Helena. Oberon is mad at Puck for making so many mistakes. He makes Puck stay up all night and fix the mess.
When the lovers wake up in the morning, Lysander loves Hermia and Demetrius loves Helena. Everyone is happy and they all go back to Athens to get married. Everything is better in the fairy kingdom too. Oberon reverses the spell on Titania and Bottom. Oberon and Titania stop fighting and Puck apologizes for all of his mistakes.
Back at the palace, we get to take part in the wedding festivities and watch ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ played for the Duke and all the newly weds by the Mechanicals. It’s one of the funniest scenes and Shakespeare and a wonderful end to a brilliantly funny play!