Scene by Scene

The Athenian Court

Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is preparing to marry Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. Egeus, a nobleman, comes to Theseus with a complaint about his daughter, Hermia. Hermia wishes to marry her love, Lysander, but Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius. Theseus says that Hermia must either obey her father’s will and marry Demetrius or she must live the rest of her life in a convent. Unhappy with this outcome, Hermia and Lysander decide to elope into the forest together. Before they leave they tell Hermia’s best friend, Helena, about their secret plan. Helena is in love with Demetrius and plots to tell him that Hermia is eloping, in the hope that he might return her feelings and give up Hermia.

The Mechanicals' First Meeting

A group of amateur actors, known as the mechanicals, meet in the forest with plans to put on a play for the Duke’s wedding. Their director, Peter Quince, hands out all the parts. One of the actors, Nick Bottom, is very enthusiastic and wants to play more than just the part of that has been given to him, much to Quince’s annoyance. The group arrange to meet again at the Duke’s oak for their first rehearsal.

Oberon’s and Titania’s Quarrel

The King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, have fallen out over a changeling boy that Titania has in her possession. Oberon wants the boy for himself but Titania won’t give him up. Oberon therefore plans revenge. He orders his servant, Puck, to fetch a magical flower. The juice of the flower placed upon a person’s eyes makes them fall in love with the next person or creature they see. Oberon plans to use the flower to make Titania fall in love with the first beast she sees. Whilst Puck is searching for the flower, Oberon sees Demetrius being cruel to Helena as she swears her undying love to him. So Oberon tells Puck to use this same flower on Demetrius to make him fall in love with Helena.

The Magical Flower

Titania’s fairies sing her to sleep whilst Oberon quietly sneaks in and puts the juice of the magical flower on her eyes. Now, when Titania wakes, she will fall in love with the first thing she sees. Meanwhile, Lysander and Hermia set up a camp in the forest to rest for the night. As they sleep, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and sprinkles his eyes with the juice of the magical flower. When Lysander wakes up the first person he sees is Helena and so he falls instantly in love with her instead of Hermia.

The Interrupted Rehearsal

The mechanicals meet again to start rehearsing for their play. However, they are interrupted by Puck who cuts short the rehearsal by transforming Bottom's head into that of a donkey. The rest of the actors are in shock at Bottom’s strange appearance and run away in fear. A very confused Bottom is left all alone until Titania awakes from her sleep and, seeing him, falls instantly in love. She requests that Bottom stays with her and summons her fairies to serve him.

Puck’s Mistake

Puck tells Oberon how he has turned Bottom into an ass and how Titania is now in love with him. Oberon is pleased with his servant’s work until he comes across two of the Lovers: Demetrius and Hermia. He realises that Demetrius still loves Hermia and that Puck has therefore used the magical flower on the wrong man. He tries to correct the mistake by using the flower on Demetrius, but this now means that both Lysander and Demetrius love Helena. The lovers squabble over this new situation and so Oberon must try and right his servant’s wrongs once and for all. He gets Puck to gather the lovers together and puts another potion on Lysander’s eyes so that this time, when he wakes, he will love Hermia once more.

The Morning After the Night Before

Titania continues to dote on Bottom, but now that Oberon has got the changeling boy he decides to break the charm. Titania wakes and is confused about what has happened. She asks Oberon to explain and so he shows her Bottom. Titania now loathes the ass she once loved and so Oberon asks Puck to transform Bottom back to his normal human form.

Thesus and Hippolyta discover the lovers sleeping in the forest. They are all confused by the night’s events and believe they must have been dreaming. They return to Athens to be married as Lysander once more loves Hermia and Demetrius now loves Helena.

Bottom Returns

The mechanicals are anxious that no one has seen or heard from Bottom since their last rehearsal. They fear that they won’t be able to perform their play without him. Fortunately, Bottom returns just in time, confused at the past events, but ready to play his part.

The Mechanicals' Play

It is the marriage celebrations and the mechanicals arrive at court to perform their play. It is a clumsy performance but it is still received with great amusement by the audience who laugh at its poor writing and the bad performances. When the play is over, the performers and guests retire. The fairies then enter to bless all of the marriages and Puck wishes the audience a good night.