This is probably one of the best known Shakespeare plays, with most people thinking of it as “the one where a man has a donkey’s head” and, to be honest, other than knowing that it was one of the more fantastical plays in general, that was about the extent of my knowledge before reading too.
Of all the Shakespeare I’ve read, I think this has definitely been the most light-hearted and whimsical one so far. I quite liked that, as it made for a refreshing change from the usual, more edgy stuff that you get from him. Here you’ve got nonsense like people mixing up love potions so that the wrong people fall in love with each other and hilarity ensues.
The main story is about a wedding between Theseus and Hippolyta – but while humans are getting involved in there usual squabbles, there are also a bunch of goings on with the fairy folk. In the midst of it all, you’ve got a group of performers who are trying to put on a play to mark the occasion of the wedding, which adds an entertaining meta-layer to everything.
Something I appreciated about A Midsummer’s Night Dream was the addition of all the fairy people – most notably, Titania the queen of the fairies, and her mischievous underling, Puck. Although both of these characters were created by Shakespeare himself, they’ve left such an impact that they’ve kind of been retroactively absorbed into the folklore. They’re both fun characters, and it’s great to see their origins here.
Though there are still quite a few that I haven’t read, this is definitely my favourite of the Shakespeare comedies, and if you’re looking for one to try, I would definitely recommend this as one of the ones you won’t want to miss.