Last night in Kansas City I saw a fabulous production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have seen various productions of this play on stage, and so far, this is my favorite.
I remain astonished by Shakespeare. There is so much to unpack in this one play that you could spend years analyzing it, and still merely scratch the surface.
I find myself particularly drawn to the relationship between the rational mortal realm of Athens ruled over by Theseus and the wild faerie realm ruled over by Oberon and Titania. They represent opposing principles which all of us carry inside us at all times.
In particular, there is a delightful contrast between two characters who seem set up as exemplars of their respective realms: Bottom and Puck. Bottom is a working class human in the world of reality, yet his every thought and emotion seems disconnected from any real perception of reality.
Puck is a working class Hobgoblin, a creature of pure fantasy, and yet is an engine of actual change in the mortal world. The most important and positive psychological shift in the real world during the course of the play — the emerging love of Demetrius for Helena — is brought about with Puck’s assistance.
And so we seem to have a disquisition on the contradictory nature of human beings. Maybe that’s one reason we all love this play so much. That, and the fact that it’s incredibly beautiful and funny.