The action begins in Athens, where the city’s leader, Theseus, is to marry Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Great celebrations are planned.
Meanwhile, Egeus brings his daughter Hermia to an audience with Theseus. Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius, but Hermia has refused because she is in love with Lysander. Theseus orders Hermia to obey her father’s decision on who she should marry. If she does not, she will either enter a convent or be put to death.
To avoid such a fate, Hermia and Lysander decide to meet in the forest and elope. They confide in their friend Helena. However, because Helena is in love with Demetrius, she tells him of their plan in the hope of winning his affection. That night, all four lovers set out for the forest.
Meanwhile, a group of tradesmen – the Mechanicals – are planning to put on an amateur play in celebration of Theseus’ wedding. They rehearse the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe in the same forest.
Elsewhere, Oberon and Titania, the fairy king and queen, are in the midst of a tempestuous argument. Oberon has his servant Puck find a magic plant, the juice of which, when squeezed onto the eyes of someone asleep, causes them to fall in love with the first creature they see when they wake. Oberon uses the juice on Titania.
Puck, who has overheard the Mechanicals rehearsing, transforms Nick Bottom’s head into that of a donkey. The other men are terrified and flee the forest. When Titania awakes, the first creature she sees is the monstrous Bottom.
As the lovers chase each other through the forest, Oberon has Puck cast the same spell on Demetrius, in order that he will fall in love with Helena. However, Puck confuses the two young Athenian men and it is Lysander who falls in love with Helena. Puck eventually casts the spell on Demetrius as well. Eventually, Oberon lifts all the spells and puts the lovers to sleep.
Titania and Oberon reconcile. The lovers awake from what they presume was all a dream. Demetrius remains under the spell. Bottom wakes up and recounts his strange encounter.
The wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta becomes a triple celebration of three weddings. The Mechanicals perform Pyramus and Thisbe.
This synopsis is part of the program for A Midsummer Night's Dream, which also features:
- notes from Artistic Director Andrew Upton and director Kip Williams
- insights into the production
- biographies and photos of the cast and crew
- photos from the rehearsal room
- and much more!
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 12 Sep – 22 Oct 2016, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
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