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A Midsummer Night's Dream at Arundel Castle

A Midsummer Night’s Dream - synopsis

Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is to marry the captured Amazonian Queen, Hippolyta. During their courting they are interrupted by the Athenian Lord Egeus who brings a complaint against his daughter, Hermia. Egeus wants Hermia to marry the young Athenian Demetrius but she is in love with Lysander and wants to marry him instead. Her friend Helena is in love with Demetrius, he and she were involved but Demetrius now prefers Hermia. Despite Lysander and Hermia’s protestations, the Duke holds up the Law of Athens: Hermia must obey her Father or she will be put to death.

Hermia and Lysander escape this harsh Athenian law by running away into the forest. They are followed by Demetrius who is in pursuit of Hermia and he is followed by Helena who hopes to win his love back.

A group of Mechanicals, craftsmen from Athens, meet to discuss rehearsals for ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ which they plan to perform before Theseus and Hippolyta on their wedding night in four days time. Having agreed on the casting of the play they agree to meet in the forest to rehearse so they can prepare their play in secret.

In the forest, Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the Fairies are quarreling over the Indian Boy whom Oberon wants to claim as his page. Titania promised the boy’s Mother she would protect him and refuses to let Oberon have his way. Oberon orders his mischievous servant, Robin Goodfellow, better know as Puck, to fetch a magical flower to squeeze into Titania’s eyes as she sleeps. The flower has the power to make one fall in love with the first live creature that one sees upon waking. Puck fulfils his task and brings the powerful love-juice flower to his master. In the meantime, Oberon has observed Helena and decided he feels sorry for her and will make Demetrius fall in love with her again with the help of the flower. Oberon orders Puck to put the juice of the flower into Demetrius’ eyes while he sleeps. But Puck mistakes and puts it into Lysander’s eyes. When Lysander awakes he falls in love with the first living creature he sees, Helena. The love-juice is then placed on Demetrius eyes and he too falls for Helena. The boys fight over Helena and both reject Hermia, and this drives Hermia first into despair then into a fury.

The Mechanicals meet to rehearse near the bower where Titania is sleeping. Puck places a spell on Bottom-the-Weaver, that transforms his head into an Ass. When the other Mechanicals run away from him in terror, Bottom decides to sing to calm his nerves. He wakes up Titania and she falls in love with him, in other words she falls in love with an Ass. By now Oberon is satisfied that Titania is suitably humiliated and that the lovers should be freed from the spell. He orders Puck to assist him in this with another magical flower.

By chance, Theseus and Hippolyta with Egeus, come across the lovers sleeping on the ground when they are out hunting. When they wake up, Demetrius confesses his love for Helena. To please Hippolyta, Theseus overrides the Athenian law and declares that the two sets of lovers will wed on the same day as He and his Amazon Queen. The Mechanicals are also reunited with Bottom who has been freed of the Ass’s head.

Everyone returns to Athens for the Weddings and entertainment. The Mechanicals production of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ is chosen to be performed. It is the opportunity to look back on the past four days in the forest and all that has happened in the moonlight and magic.