Evaluation of a Live Play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Khalif Willis

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Hartford Stage

In the live play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the opening scene is when Egeus who is the father of Hermia, gave Demetrius consent to marry Hermia; instead, she wanted to marry Lysander. Egeus was trying to get the duke of Athens, Theseus, to go ahead and marry Demetrius and Hermia. But she refused to marry Demetrius, so then Theseus gave her a choice. His direct word was “therefore fair Hermia, question your desires, know your youth, examine well your blood, whether, if you yield not to your father’s choice, you can endure the livery of a nun, or than that which withering on the virgin thorn, grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.” This scene took place in the depths of the forest. Seeing the live performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a good experience. This play is a good way to teach the audience a lesson about love. It’s sometimes better to wait for it instead of going out to seek it.

The live performance version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about an all-out love affair between the Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander.  Demetrius is in love with Hermia, but Hermia is in love with Lysander who is also in love with Hermia. The father, Egeus, gave consent to Demetrius to be with Hermia, but she refused her father’s wishes which leads to Hermia running away with Lysander to come up with a plan for her and him to be together. Demetrius and Helena were a somewhere in the depth of the woods, where Helena makes an inserting effort to be with Demetrius but was unsuccessful. Hermia and Lysander also ended up somewhere in the depth of the woods where they decided to rest their heads because they were tired and unable to continue running away. Then Puck, who is fairy servant to Oberon, comes into the woods and cast a spell on Lysander. The purpose of this spell was to make the person fall in love with the first creature they come in contact with. Lysander ends up falling in love with Helena.  Puck would go ahead and cast another love spell but this time on Demetrius causing him to fall in love with Helena, the woman he kept rejecting. The spell would then get removed from both Lysander and Demetrius, now Lysander is in love with Hermia again and Demetrius surprisingly is in love with Helena. Everyone winds up being with the person that they wanted to be with from the beginning.

What makes a play good are scenes where there’s action, love, passion, and comedy. Action in a play is always good. It will keep the audience entertained, giving them a desire to find out what happens next. There have to be love scenes in a play, so the audience can see the devotion that the characters in that particular scene have for one another. Passion in a play causes the audience to feel what the character is experiencing in that scene. The number one element to attract an audience, whether it be a show or a play, is comedy. Everyone loves to have a good laugh and it makes the piece more enjoyable to watch. Too much comedy, however, will make it hard for the audience or critics to take the play seriously, therefore causing people to not want to waste their time seeing it. Lastly, the setting and costume have to be in tune with the scenes; this will help make the play come to life.

The live performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream captured the text pretty well. The lines in the text might have been slightly different from the lines in the play, but the play was very close to the actual text. The actors did an amazing job playing their parts, especially in acting with their movements in the play, but also in reciting the lines as if we were in the 1500s. Some of the scenery in this play was believable in terms of the written text, especially the scenes that had the all-out love affair between Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena. Those scenes give the audience a better perspective of how these four characters bumped heads with each other while they continued pursuing one another. This in fact made the live performance of the play better than the written text.

In this play, the actors did a phenomenal job acting out their roles and reciting the lines of the play. The costumes fit the setting in this play very well. This play did not have the type of action that would have the audience at the edge of their seats. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a love comedy. The scenes when Lysander and Demetrius were bickering over Hermia there could have been a fight in one of those scenes between Lysander and Demetrius. This would have made the love triangle more intense. The love scenes were appropriate and believable in this play. Helena finally being with Demetrius after getting rejected by him throughout the storyline of the play caused the audience to feel passionate because after being told no so many times Helena continued pursuing what she wanted and then getting it in the end. The play did have a lot of comedy but some of it was unnecessary. The play-within-a-play scene was too long. It should have been shorter and it was overdone. The wall in the play-within-a-play scene did make the audience laugh out of their seats. Even though that scene included the wall doing a penis joke as Bottom and Flute had to kiss through the hole in the wall. This was bold but clever.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written between 1594 and 1588. The live performance of the play was performed at other theaters such as The Hartford Stage. The play is approximately two and half hours long.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hartford Stage was directed by Darko Tresnjak who is also the artistic director for this play; the scenic design was done by Alexander Dodge and the costume design was done by Joshua Pearson. Christopher Arnott from The Hartford Courant states “you can usually count on Darko Trensjak for a consistent style.” Despite giving the director high praise for his consistency when it comes to style, he thought the play was missing magic.

The title A Midsummer Night’s Dream is appropriate considering the meaning behind the title. The meaning of this title is that the setting may take place on a summer night that might be real or just a person’s dream. This play is best suitable for people 16 and up because even though it’s a love comedy some of the scenes are not appropriate for an audience younger than 16. This play would benefit the 16 and up audience because it teaches them about love and how far people will go to get it. Despite those scenes people should go and see this play because it is great experience and it is fun filled atmosphere. People should spend their money to see this play because they will have a good time. Plus it’s perfect for going on a date or spending time with family.

Course: ENG 102 Literature and Composition, Fall 2017
Assignment: Drama Analysis
Instructor: Daniela Ragusa

Photo credit: Hartford Stage