Directed by: Carmen Khan
Love. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? One minute, we think we’ve found the love of our life, and the next, the object of our love has fallen for someone else. Sometimes, our insecurities blind us from love that is knocking at our door. And sometimes, unfortunately, we find that we’ve fallen for a bit of an ass.
Such are the challenges that face the characters in William Shakespeare’s fantastical take on the confusing and often capricious nature of romantic love, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This timeless classic is Shakespeare’s meditation on erotic fascination. From the lowest to the mightiest, we are all equally helpless victims of the sense of humor of this most fickle of gods. Love comes as suddenly as death, and we are all but consumed with sexual passion. And yet, the Bard helps us to relax and trust that, even in spite of all our vain efforts to control our own destiny, we will be treated gently, and somehow all will be well in the end.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream centers on four young Athenians who, over a night lost in an enchanted forest, find themselves victim to mistaken identities, explosive passions, trickery, and falling in and out of love.
The four young lovers are:
Hermia, whose father insists that she marry the man he has chosen for her, Demetrius, although she is in love with another, Lysander. She and Lysander plan to elope against the wishes of her father and Athenian law. However, their plans fall apart before they can even begin.
Demetrius, who wishes to wed Hermia. It seems that Demetrius used to love another, Helena, but fell out of love some time ago. After hearing of Hermia’s plan to run off with Lysander, Demetrius sets off to find her and bring her back to Athens. But within the forest surrounding the city lay obstacles that he hadn’t bargained for.
Lysander, who loves Hermia despite her father’s objections. He plans to take her away and marry her at the home of his Aunt, who lives in a beautiful home beyond Athens and the forest that surrounds it. All he has to do is get them there. However, he’ll soon fall victim to a love potion that set his plans out of whack.
Helena, who is still in love with Demetrius, and will do anything to win him back. Hermia and Lysander tell her of their plans to elope, she then thinks that she can get back in Demetrius’s good graces by helping him stop them. Following Demetrius into the wood, her insecurities flare as both men suddenly change their tune and try to woo her. It seems that one fairy’s love potion has made a bit of a mess of things!
Although “the course of true love never did run smooth”, all is well in the end, as love is set on the right track and wedding bells ring after the dream-like night of confusion and passion run amok.
Throughout the play, the audience is also introduced to a good-natured but somewhat hopeless band of craftsmen, who plan to put on a play despite their utter lack of theatrical know-how; a fairy king and queen who use magic and trickery to get revenge on each other; and the shape shifting Puck, a servant of the fairy king, whose antics set much of the play on its twisted course.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s Artistic/Executive Director, Carmen Khan.
PECO is a Presenting Sponsor of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.