Synopsis by Mike Cummings
This play gets its title from the name of a British holiday called Midsummer Day, the feast of John the Baptist, celebrated on June 24 with merrymaking. On Midsummer Night, witches, goblins, and fairies materialized to hold a festival of their own. Shakespeare's play capitalizes on the magic of the occasion. Set in Athens, it begins when Duke Theseus orders gala ceremonies for his coming marriage to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. But domestic strife intrudes upon the gay atmosphere when one of the duke's subjects, Hermia, chooses Lysander as her future husband over her father Egeus' choice, Demetrius. Theseus reminds Hermia of a law requiring her to obey her father or face death or banishment. Hermia and Lysander then escape to the woods. There, tradesmen are rehearsing a play for the duke's wedding. Demetrius, the rejected suitor, searches the woods for Hermia, while another young lady, Helena, follows him, praying that he will bestow his love on her instead of Hermia. Also in the woods are fairies gathered to bless the duke's wedding. Oberon, the fairy king, argues violently with his queen, Titania, after she refuses to give him a boy he wants as a servant. In retaliation, Oberon orders a fairy named Puck to concoct a potion of flower juice, which, when squeezed on Titania's eyelids, will enamor her of the first creature she sees -- whether animal or man. Witnessing the love problems of Helena and Demetrius, Oberon decides a dose of flower juice will do them good. But because of mischief and mixups, Puck's potion anoints indiscriminately, and everyone temporarily falls in love with the wrong person. Titania ends up with bumpkin Bottom, a tradesman wearing the head of an ass. Eventually, remedial magic rights the wrongs and a triple wedding takes place.