It’s midsummer, well, October, but the beginning of Autumn is always a little eerie, or something? not entirely sure really.. But still, I thought I’d write a quick and easy guide to why A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favourites (feel free to disagree). We’ll go for five to start off with?
- Puck is a fantastic narrator. I love him, he’s got a wonderful way of addressing all levels of walls within the play (Pyramus and Thisbe et al.). Well, it’s a play within a play within a play, with various levels of interaction with all of them. Also, he’s our chorus and narrator, openly teasing the fourth wall, with a mischievous nature that can easily be turned sinister if the director decides to take that route.
- THE RUDE MECHANICALS – okay, so they have the best name, and we’re not just talking Bottom, although you’ve got to love a man with a donkey head. Or something.. They’re the clowns, with parallels to the servants of fairy world, but still exert a fair amount of power within the world. it’s their bumbling that produces the Pyramus and Thisbe play, which is a brilliant example of a comitragic farce in itself.
- JUXTAPOSITIONING – I’m not entirely sure if you can honestly put an ‘ing’ on the end of this but I’m going to do it anyway.. MSND is a brialliant play for contrasts and collaborations, the easiest to spot being that of the intertwined lovers, but also the echoes of Oberon and Titania that can be expressed within Theseus and Hippolyta, which totally open even more kettles of fairies for analysis 😀
- The spiritual, the faerie, the real. The use of the ethereal world of the faerie gives Shakespeare a little more leave to give political commentary through his plays. It’s all a bit risky really, but if you think many or most of SHakespeares plays probably had serious political ramifications (many other playwrights are poets were imprisoned for considered treason/blasphemy etc) and MSND can be taken to show powerful women (the faerie queen, and Hipployta queen of the Amazons) being dominated by the foul play and scheming of dominating men, with no perceived consequence. Possibly not entirely sensible in Elizabethan England, eh?
- The accessibility of it, really. It’s a play with something for everybody, on many different levels, it can be seen as a simple fairy tale but it’s got many rather disturbing facets. At its worst it can be extremely dark, and there are obvious suggestions of this, but it’s one of the first Shakespeare plays I ever saw, and I was very young, and remember just enjoying the fairies and their idle fancies.