What fools these mortals be! And also what dicks these immortals be, well Puck and Oberon at least.
In this Shakespeare comedy, we find four young Athenian nobles trying to sort out their possible marriages. Their parents are making wrong choices or choices that only adhere to the parent’s political and financial desires, and not the love of the young people. Everything all mixed up, they decide to run away. The find their way into the woods where they are found sleeping by Oberon, king of the Fairies, and his attendant Puck. Oberon asks Puck to try to get the lovers to sort themselves out. He also ask Puck to see about convincing his wife Titania to take him back. Puck loves this idea.
Another group we contend is a troupe of amateur actors, all tradesman, who want to perform at the wedding, where a kind of competition/open mic is happening. They decide to take on the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, a Romeo and Juliet precursor. Their lead actor Bottom takes on the title role and he decides what they really need is a LOT more detail and explanation. This way he gets more lines and the audience won’t be so confused and worried. He’s worried that the audience will think the actor playing the lion is a real lion and that it won’t be clear that the two lovers are separated by a wall, so he casts an actor as the wall, and gives the wall lines.
But Bottom also runs into Puck, who he gives the head of an ass, and then casts a spell on Titania to fall in love with Bottom. All of this leads to hilarity.
The play is a comedy, so you know what happens. The funniest and weirdest part of the play is that the story itself wraps up pretty early in the play and the bulk of the second half is given over to the performance of the play within a play.
If you’re like me, my first interaction with this play was in Dead Poet’s Society, and since that’s a sad movie, I kind of always thought this was a sad play.