Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: William Shakespeare, July 21, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
The nuptials are besieged by a long-running love square, a disastrous play and a war between the king and queen of fairies.
The love-square has previously seen the male of one pair betrothed to a girl, who in turn is in love with someone else. Both men are after the betrothed girl, Hermia, and her childhood friend Helena, the former partner of her spurned intended Lysander, is left out in the cold.
Meanwhile, a bunch of peasants are preparing a play to celebrate the high profile wedding. Malapropism-prone Nick Bottom steals these scenes as he tries to constantly big up his part and at the same time advocate for explaining to the audience that nothing that seems scary in the play is real.
Finally, King Oberon of the Fairies is having an almighty fall out with his wife Titania over who gets her new slave. He sets the mischievous Puck loose with a love potion that sees her fall for Bottom, whose head is transposed with that of an ass, and also tries to intervene in the love square. Of course, it only makes matters worse.
There are many funny moments in Midsummer, but the fifth and final act is best. We are treated to the performance of the doomed play which is written as sharply and satirically as any modern sitcom.
As with all Shakespeare, the great characters and fabulous plot are enhanced by the gorgeous writing. Whether aiming or a laugh or a flutter, he rarely misses the mark. I loved my first reading of this in 2001 and still love it now.