A Midsummer Night's Dream Synopsis
A Midsummer Night's Dream synopsis
PLEASE BE WARNED: This synopsis contains spoilers for plot twists in the story.
Shakespeare’s famous “fairy tale” is more like two stories that intertwine until they are one- a tale of lovers being toyed with by the Fairy King and Queen, and the “Rude Mechanicals,” a group of skilled laborers trying to put on a play for the wedding celebration of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
In the Center's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a group of travelers journey through a barren wasteland looking for water, shelter, and something to entertain them. They stumble into the opening lines of Shakespeare's classic, and take up the mantle of Puck and Peter Quince, Titania and Hippolyta, Bottom and Oberon and Helen. Scene to scene, the travelers change costumes and stances to perform the play.
The story opens with a quarrel between Oberon - king of the fairies - and Titania, his Queen. In the forest outside Athens under the light of a full moon, Titania and Oberon argue and spat and go their separate ways - both stewing in their anger at each other.
Meanwhile, Athenian citizen Egeus brings his daughter Hermia to Theseus. Hermia is in love with Lysander, and not Demetrius, who her father has chosen for her to wed. This version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream sees actor Jessica Austgen shine with androgynous swagger, playing the role of Lysander that is usually played by a man to great comic relief. Theseus tells Hermia that if she doesn’t do as her father desires, Athenian law will lay down on her, possibly bringing about her death. With this, Lysander and Hermia plot to run away.
See, the big issue is that Demetrius used to profess his love for Helena, Hermia’s dear friend since childhood, but his tune changed and now he loves Hermia instead. Helena is still smitten, telling Demetrius that she is “his spaniel,” and pants like a dog until her panting is something a little more…orgasmic.
Titania, irritated with Oberon, sees this tangled web of love and tells her mischievous sprite Puck to fetch a flower with magic juice that causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see. She wants Puck to then put the magic juice in Oberon’s eyes, and then wake him up once an animal like a monkey or a bear passes by so that he will fall in love with it.
Titania then witnesses Helena chasing after Demetrius, and feeling a little empathetic, tells Puck to find the man in the Athenian garments and put the juice in his eye so that he will fall in love with the woman (Helena). Armed in hand with some of the magic juice, Titania then drips the juice into Oberon’s eyes.
Meanwhile in the forest, Lysander and Hermia sleep soundly. Puck sees Lysander’s Athenian garments and quickly puts the juice in his eye. Helena runs into the scene, and when she wakes Lysander, Lysander falls head over heels in love with Helena. The web continues to tangle.
As the actors rehearse for their play, their activity causes Oberon to wake up. The first thing he sees is one of the actors, Bottom, standing there with a donkey’s mask on his head – and it is love at first sight.
Hermia is frantically looking for Lysander, and after giving Demetrius a painful-looking wedgie yells at him to help her as she runs offstage. Titania witnesses this scene and is livid. Wrong Athenian, Puck! Titania tries to make things right by putting some of the magic juice in the eye of Demetrius, who it was intended for in the first place. Lysander and Helena enter, Demetrius sees Helena, and you guessed it – he falls in love with her. They begin to kiss up and down her arms Gomez Addams-style, knocking her down and laying on top of her. Helena pulls herself away, leaving Lysander and Demetrius laying on top of each other, and as the two quickly jump to their feet. Lysander attempts to win the battle by kicking Demetrius in the groin.
Hermia enters and begins trying to fight Helena after Helena makes a little snub regarding how short Hermia is. Puck tries to put it all back together by putting the magic juice in people’s eyes and coordinating it so they fall in love with the person that they are supposed to be with. Titania puts the juice in Oberon’s eye to bring him back to normal, and he is distraught to see that he fell in love with a beast. They take off the donkey head to show that it’s just Bottom inside.
The actors then perform the story of Pyramus and Thisbe for Theseus and Hippolyta, and a hilariously bad production is shown complete with silly parodies of famous movie death scenes (remember the shower in Psycho?) that any audience member will recognize and delight in. At the end of the story, Puck suggests everything the audience just witnessed might have been a dream.
If you have any additional questions about the nature of this production or the content, we strongly encourage you to contact the Box Office at 720-898-7200.