A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s high comedies are not my favorite group of his works. I am an avowed Shakespearean but he wasn’t a deity. For me, many of the comedies kind of run together at times. They’re often quite great but they rarely blow me away the way most of his plays do. To my mind, the darker, problem comedies are much more satisfying.
That being said, I love this play! Some of it is because I had a small part (Robin Starveling) in it once but it is also just so much fun. The lovers are pretty bland but they have some great lines and, for once at least, no woman disguises herself as a boy! The fairies are deliciously weird and, in the character of Egeus, Shakespeare creates what is probably the most repulsive human being ever seen on a stage. The fact that this contemptible wart of a man is in such an upbeat comedy is a wonderfully provocative juxtaposition of mindsets.
However, the best part of the play, by far in my opinion, is Nick Bottom and his gang of rude mechanicals. These characters are incredibly vivid human beings. It just seems impossible to me not to lose your heart to them. They are funny and clown-like, yes, but also posses warmth and the dignity of real people trying to do their (admittedly lame) best. These qualities are sorely lacking higher up the social scale in this play. Bottom’s speech after Puck’s spell is broken is one of Shakespeare’s finest achievements. Sure Shakespeare’s poetry is great but we never hear much about his prose. Bottom’s speech is heart-stopping, beautiful and haunting. I guess what I’m getting at is that this is a great play all around. But, for me anyway, Bottom and friends put it over the top. Couldn’t imagine the whole thing without them. 


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