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Pay attention, this gets complicated.
So, basically, there's this girl called Hermia and she wants to marry Lysander but her dad says no because he wants her to marry Demetrius. Hermia is having none of it and runs away to the forest with Lysander to elope. There's this other girl called Helena who fancies Demetrius and she tells him about Hermia and Lysander's plans to elope (although this seems like a foolish move to me as Helena could have had Demetrius to herself if she had let Hermia quietly run off with Lysander). Anyway, Demetrius runs off to the forest to find Hermia. Helena of course follows Demetrius.
Meanwhile Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairy kingdom, are in the forest and they are having a huge row because Titania refuses to give Oberon her changeling child. Oberon decides that Titania should be taught a lesson and rather than opting for any traditional or sensible methods he hatches a convoluted and ridiculous plan involving his jester, Puck. Oberon asks Puck to apply a potion made from a flower called 'love-in-idleness' to Titania. The effect of the potion is to make the victim fall in love with the first living thing that they see when they wake up.Oberon's entire plan is that Titania will wake up, fall in love with some forest creature and be so ashamed that she will give her child to Oberon. It is clearly a well thought out, fool-proof, watertight, brilliant plan!
Also meanwhile there are a bunch of travelling actors in the forest, one of whom is Nick Bottom. They are in the forest rehearsing for a play that they are going to perform under the light of the full moon at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.
So, back to Helena, Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander. Helena is running around the forest after Demetrius, professing her love and generally being a sap, Demetrius has had enough and is telling her to push off and being quite unpleasant to her. Oberon sees this and because he can't even handle his own love life without resorting to magic potions he decides to stick his nose in here as well. Oberon tells Puck to whack some of the love-potion on Demetrius. Puck screws it up and accidentally puts the potion on Lysander and the first person he sees when he wakes up is Helena. He promplty falls in love with her! A little later Oberon sees Demetrius still chasing after Hermia, he realises that Puck potioned the wrong guy and rather than using this as a learning experience that sometimes he just shouldn't get involved in other people's affairs, he decides to try again, he sets Puck straight and this time he gets some potion on the right guy. Demetrius wakes up and the first person he sees and falls in love is also Helena. Oh dear! Both boys profess their love to Helena who is understandably confused. Poor old Hermia can't figure out why Lysander has suddenly gone off her. Lysander and Demetrius are at each others throats fighting over Helena. Being the manly men that they are they challenge each other to a duel. Oberon makes his first good decision of the day and gets Puck to remove the spell from Lysander.
Meanwhile, Nick Bottom and his actor buddies are rehearsing in the forest and just happen to be really near to where Titania is covered in love potion and resting. Puck sees Bottom and being as much of a meddler as his master, he decides to turn Bottom's head into that off a donkey, as you do! When Bottom's buddies see him they freak out and run off leaving Bottom to wander around confused at having been abandoned in the forest, he starts to sing to himself which inevitably wakes up the slumbering Titania who having been got with the love potion obviously falls in love with him. She goes nuts for him and while she is in this state Oberon takes the changeling child. Mission (rather long windedly) Accomplished. Oberon, being the upstanding trustworthy king of the fairies that he is, orders Puck to remove the Donkey head from Bottom and to make Demtrius, Lysander, Helena and Hermia all believe that everything that has happened was just a dream.
Demetrius, Lysander, Helena and Hermia are all woken up by the soon to be married Theseus and Hippolyta. The happy couple assess the situation and decide that the only thing for it is to arrange a group wedding (For Hermia and Lysander, Demetrius and Helena in that order!) So off they go to Athens. Bottom also wakes up, decides it was all just a dream and off he goes to Athens to perform in his play for Theseus, Hippolyta and the lovers. The play is terrible but it's so bad that it's good and the audience are cracking up. Once they've all gone to bed the fairies come out to bless the house and it's occupants. Titania seems to have completely forgiven (or forgotten) that Oberon drugged her and stole her child.
Puck rounds things up by telling the audience that everything that just happened may be nothing but a dream. Oh yeah, that old chestnut!
©Candy Joyce 2014
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