Demi-gods, fairies, kings and lovers from all those categories and more mingle, dance, fight, enchant and fall witlessly love in the Improbable Fictions’ staged reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Two performances will be given, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Bama Theatre’s Greensboro Room, and at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 in the courtyard at Kentuck, 503 Main Avenue. The Friday performance will move indoors to the Kentuck Annex in case of inclement weather. Both are free and open to the public, though seating is limited. Pre-show music will begin at 7 p.m. each night. Call 205-310-5287, or visit the Facebook site Improbable Fictions: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — Staged Reading, for more. $1 donations to the Bama Theatre Restoration Fund are appreciated.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies for numerous reasons. The thunderous relationship between jealous fairy king Oberon and his lover-queen Titania intensifies underlying tensions in the upcoming marriage of Duke Theseus, son of Poseidon and founder of Athens, to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, a marriage forged in political necessity but seeking grounds in love. Four younger lovers interchange, magically and comically, the rude mechanicals entertain with their good hearts and somewhat weak minds, and Puck, well, Puck becomes an adjectival form.
Theseus seeks to make peace between his friend Egeus and Egeus’ daughter Hermia, who doesn’t want to marry her father’s chosen heir, Demetrius. Hermia loves Lysander; they plan to marry. Demetrius wants Hermia, very likely for the dowry, and Egeus wants his daughter to either follow his wishes, or by Athenian law, hie her to a nunnery…or to death. Knowing that his future wife Hippolyta is watching, Theseus treads softly, but sticks to the law.
In frustration and fear, Hermia and Lysander bolt into the woods, followed closely by Demetrius and Helena, Hermia’s friend who is in love with — and has been loved by — Demetrius.
The Athenian forest is the domain of wild, magical beings. Oberon and Titania, their king and queen, feud over each others’ affairs, and a child that may have resulted. Oberon enchants his sleeping beloved to fall in love with the very next thing she sees, with the help of his wild child helper Puck.
The next thing she sees is an ass, in dual meanings of the word. Bottom is the loudest of a band of bad players, rough tradesmen (or rude mechanicals) rehearsing a play for the Duke’s upcoming nuptials. Puck transforms his braying by giving him the head of a jackass. Titania, following the compulsion from the flower’s juice dropped in her eyes, falls for the ass.
Puck, as instructed by Oberon, also enchants the Athenian to fall in love with Helena — but gets the wrong young man. The two who had pursued Hermia now want nothing to do with her, and Helena finds herself with more attention than she can bear.
Eventually, all’s well — as another play said — through love and magic and best intentions, which sometimes overrule logic and the letter of the law.
Sponsored by the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, the UA English Dept., and the UA College of Arts and Sciences