OH WHAT FOOLS THESE MORTALS BE!
Behind your safe ordinary world of TVs and supermarkets, cars and designer clothes, mobile phones and motorways, there's another, darker place, just out of sight, where fairies live. Not the nice Tinkerbell fairies of Arthur Rackham and Peter Pan, but hordes of shadowy, greedy scavengers ready to get their sticky fingers on your precious possessions. If you drop something, or cast it aside, they'll find a use for it. They won't float about making the night sky all sparkly, teaching kids to fly and posing for photographs: if you've got something shiny and interesting, they want it. They'll steal your handbag and nick your wallet, and they might just kick you in the shins for your trouble too.
But on Midsummer Night there is real trouble in the air. After two young men and two young women, confused in love, stumble carelessly into the fairy realm, they find themselves at the mercy of Oberon, the King of the Fairies and his anarchic henchman Puck, determined to make mischief. And when a band of rough and ready actors blunder in looking for somewhere to rehearse, they get caught up the middle of a jealous feud with the Fairy
Queen, Titania, and
everything is plunged
With all this anger and love and magic flying about, will any of them get out alive? Will Bottom ever stop making an ass of himself? Will the lovers ever find their rightful partners? And will the play ever be finished?
A brief history of the Play
"To the King's Theatre, where we saw A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I
Well Sam didn't like it! But then what did he know!
The play has a long and fascinating history. It is thought to have received its first performance at a noble wedding, possibly that of William Stanley, Earl of Derby, to Elizabeth Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford. The wedding took place at Greenwich Palace in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. It is reported that children from both noble houses were recruited to play the fairies, and that Oberon's reference to the "fair vestal throned by the west", immune to Cupid's darts, was intended as a direct tribute to the Queen, as guest of honour.
A Midsummer Night's Dream disappeared from the English stage, along with everything else, when all the theatres were closed by the Puritans in 1642, surviving only as comic sketches cobbled together from the scenes with Bottom and his cronies for "underground" performances. When it
reappeared after the Restoration it had been turned into an
opera, The Faerie Queen, with music by
But, in spite of these setbacks, the play has survived and today holds a unique place in our dramatic heritage. Its reputation enhanced by famous modern productions under Peter Brook and the Canadian director, Robert Lepage. And of course there are numerous filmed versions—the latest only a few years ago—bringing Shakespeare's most accessible play to the widest possible audience and securing it is a favourite with schools and youth theatres the world over.