Saw A Midsummer Night's Dream for the first time last night. I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years, and I knew something of the story, but had never watched the whole thing straight through. Frankly, the bits I'd seen had never held my interest, although I'll also admit that my itchy remote finger often works against me watching anything long enough to give it a fair shot. So I went into it with somewhat low expectations, along with the fact that the person I was with, helvirago, who was acquainted with most of the people in the cast, didn't have much in the way of expectations either. Plus, she hates the character of Puck.
The performance turned out to be great fun, and uproariously funny at times. There was much slapstick and many pratfalls, and we laughed and laughed. Puck's costume was a little weird, the lower half looking like an anatomically correct teddy bear, but all in all it was well done, and over too quickly.
It's not much of a play, really, just a farce, sort of like an episode of Frasier . It's not about the nature of love, or even falling in love. Three of the four couples start out in love. The exception is Demetrius and the love of his youth, Helena, who Demetrius has spurned because he's become infatuated with Hermia. They do eventually get back together, but not because Demetrius sees the error of his ways and true love wins out, but rather because Oberon casts a spell on him. (Note to self - start shopping at Oberon's florist.) One does wonder why Helena wants him at this point, because he's been such a butthead prior to this. The A plot (the romantic quadrangle) and the B plot (Oberon and Titania) are resolved three quarters of the way through the play. Just another episode of Love, Athenian Style. They are fun, and the actresses who played Hermia and Helena did excellent jobs with the parts, being funny, and sweet, and feisty. Which begs the question of why did Demetrius dump Helena? Helena and Hermia seem equally attractive.
The C plot about the amateur acting troupe got the biggest yucks, and deservedly so. The actors played their parts over the top, and literally threw themselves around the stage. I winced every time the fellow playing Thisbe hit the floor of the stage. Big guy. Ouch.
Still, it seems tacked on. You need a little bit of it early on just because you need a reason for Bottom to be in the wood, but you could end the play just as easily at dawn, and skip the performance of the players. Of course, if the intent is to leave the audience laughing, then it works fine just as it is.
So anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I probably won't seek it out, as I do Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing (which I watched tonight), but if it's on, I'll watch.