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This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.
Hippolyta

A comedy set in ancient Athens about a Love Dodecahedron gone out of control thanks to the meddling of fairies with a Love Potion. By William Shakespeare.

Two young Athenians, Hermia and Lysander, are in love. Unfortunately, Hermia's father Egeus has just betrothed her to another man named Demetrius. Demetrius' former girl was Helena, who just happens to be Hermia's best friend and is now angry that Demetrius has chosen the wealthy Hermia over the woman he used to love. They go to court, where Duke Theseus (who has his own impending marriage to Hippolyta, an Amazon queen, on his mind), rules in Egeus' favor. He gives Hermia the choice to accept the marriage, be executed, or become a nun.

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So Hermia and Lysander run away by night. Before they leave, Hermia confides in Helena and asks her not to tell anyone; so naturally, Helena tells Demetrius in a last ditch attempt to get back into his good graces. Demetrius follows the lovers, with Helena following after him, and all of them end up lost in the same forest.

Meanwhile, Oberon, King of the Fairies, has concocted a plan to get revenge on his wife Titania, who refuses to give him a changeling boy for a page, involving a certain flower whose nectar will, after being dropped into someone's eyes, cause them to fall in love with the first person they see. After eavesdropping on Helena and Demetrius and seeing how he spurns her, Oberon decides to take pity and help her. He sends his servant Puck to give the potion to "a youth in Athenian garb," traveling in the woods with a woman, in such a set-up so that the first person he sees will be the woman. Oberon then finds Titania while asleep and applies the juice to her eyes.

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Obediently, Puck uses the potion on a young man in Athenian garb asleep in the woods near a young woman. Unluckily, the guy is Lysander, not Demetrius, and the woman who wakes him is Helena. Hermia wakes to find that her beau is madly in love with her best friend instead of her! Unaware of his error, Puck proceeds to the Alpha plot regarding Titania and finds an unwitting actor in the play to be performed at Theseus' wedding, turns his head into a donkey's, scares off the rest of the performers, and then arranges for Titania to see him upon waking.

Upon discovering that the wrong Athenian was hexed, Oberon tries to mend matters by giving the potion to the intended victim, Demetrius. This backfires too, and now both of Hermia's former suitors are fighting over Helena, who thinks that the other three are mocking her. Meanwhile, Titania is in love with the guy with a donkey's head (although the victim, Mr. Nick Bottom, doesn't seem too distressed), Oberon is frustrated at the failure of his plans, and it's going to take some serious Deus ex Machina to repair all this chaos.

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Of course, it all gets straightened out in the end, everyone is paired off in a triple wedding, and the local tradesmen get to perform their hilariously awful play for the Duke and entourage.

This is the play that that kid killed himself over in Dead Poets Society. Also, that music which plays at the end of weddings? Felix Mendelssohn wrote it for an 1846 production.


Adaptations:

Film

Television

  • BBC One did a TV movie production for the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's death, adapted and directed by Russell T. Davies. This version was set in modern times and had several adaptational changes, such as turning Theseus into a villainous fascist conqueror, having Demetrius see Lysander following his love flower exposure, and giving Titania and Hippolyta their own love subplot.

Western Animation

  • House of Mouse did an adaptation of the play for one of their Mouse Tales segments, staring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Scrooge, Von Drake, and Goofy as Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, Helena, Egeus, Theseus and Puck respectively. Apart from some incorporating some cartoon gags here and there and omitting the subplot of Oberon getting revenge on his wife, the short stays rather faithful to the original play.


The play includes examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Mechanicals keep referring in Ninus's tomb as "Ninny's tomb", to Quince's increasing frustration.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: "Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword/And won thy love, doing thee injuries..." Also specifically invoked when Theseus tries to impress Hippolyta with his hounds. She teasingly tells him that she went hunting with Hercules and his hounds were better. (In Greek mythology, Hippolyta was always paired with either Theseus or Hercules.)
  • All Just a Dream: At the end of the play, the couples and Nick Bottom decide, with the help of The Fair Folk, that the night's events were just a dream, and in the epilogue spoken by Puck, he advises the audiences: "If we shadows have offended / Think but this, and all is mended / That you have but slumbered here / While these visions did appear. / And this weak and idle theme, / no more yielding, but a dream."
  • Amazon Chaser: Theseus to Hippolyta. Her courtship with Theseus was based on fighting and one of his first lines is how his marriage proposal was their duel.
  • Anachronism Stew: As is typical of Shakespeare.
    • The "crew of patches" putting on the "Pyramus and Thisbe" play are based on the Elizabethan-era working class, so their names and professions don't reflect the "ancient Greece" setting.
    • The names of the play actors (Peter, Nick, Tom, etc.) use modern naming conventions that did not exist in Ancient Greece.
    • The presence of the aforementioned play and theater in Mythical Greece is an anachronism. According to the Greeks the first actor ever was a man named Thespis born around sixth century BCE. The entire concept of acting was unknown in the time of Theseus.
    • Hermia alludes to Dido and Aeneas ("And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen,/When the false Troyan under sail was seen") even though the Trojan War (and thus Aeneas's flight from burning Troy and eventual arrival at Carthage) happens after the life of Theseus in Greek mythology.
    • Also, Theseus decrees that if Hermia doesn't marry Demetrius, she'll either be executed or have to become a nun. Not exactly a lot of nunneries in mythological Greece. (Although Shakespeare might have meant that she'd have to become a priestess of Artemis, who were required to be chaste.)
    • The fairies (or Oberon and Titania, at least) come from stories originating in medieval France. Bottom seems to know this, as he repeatedly refers to the minor fairies as "Monsieur."
    • There's a line where Puck says, "When they him spy, As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye, Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort, Rising and cawing at the gun's report." Problem, guns were not invented for centuries!
    • Robin Goodfellow, or Puck, comes from English folklore. Not even the fairies match.
    • The origin of the flower that Oberon uses? A failed attempt by Cupid to make Queen Elizabeth fall in love.
    • The text also mentions Saint Valentine, a reference to a figure not born for millennia and a religion not yet founded.
    • Theseus is called the duke of Athens multiple times, a common name for him in the Middle Ages, but the duchy of Athens wasn't established until the Fourth Crusade.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The flower.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Theseus — slayer of the Minotaur, kinsman of Hercules, husband of the Amazon Queen — doesn't believe in fairies, apparently.
    • Though this could be a case of Fridge Brilliance—Ancient Greek mythology doesn't have fairies. They're a Celtic/Briton invention! No wonder he's so dismissive of them—he's never heard of them.
  • Archer Archetype: Hippolyta's status as this in mythology is referenced when she likens the waning moon to "a silver bow/New-bent in heaven".
  • Arranged Marriage: Demetrius and Hermia.
  • Babies Ever After: Heavily implied by Oberon's speech at the end; his blessing on the three couples ensures that their future children will be free from birth defects.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The actors playing Bottom and the rest of the tradesmen are absolutely required to give their best worst performances during Pyramus and Thisbe. Bottom ought to chew the scenery like there is no tomorrow, but it's up to the rest of the Players to determine just how they'll mangle the play.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Bottom's head turned into that of an ass. Subverted, in that... he never seems to actually notice that anything is different (although he does express a craving for hay at one point).
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Hermia short. She'll try to claw your eyes out!
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Hippolyta: Theseus "wooed her with his sword"
  • Beta Couple: At least two: Oberon & Titania, Theseus & Hippolyta. They may be one and the same, though.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Oberon.
    • Also Theseus, depending on interpretation. He manages to resolve the Love Dodecagon without anyone facing an unpleasant end, and then provides the perfect play to show the lovers what could have happened had he not stepped in. Multiple characters threaten murder and suicide, and Midsummer could easily have ended more in line with Pyramus and Thisbe.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Hermia and Lysander end up together, the lovers pardoned. Demetrius and Helena go together too, while Oberon and Titania reconcile.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Helena follow Demetrius into the woods all the way from Athens because she's that clingy.
  • Coupled Couples: Hermia and Lysander are the first couple, Demetrius and Helena are the second.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Apparently in mythological Greece, nuns served Diana. In Shakespeare's time, the Greek word for the maidens who served Diana was often translated as "nuns" because their vows also required celibacy. Thus this may be "nearest modern equivalent" translation rather than an actual Crystal Dragon Jesus trope.
  • Cue Card Pause: During the Prologue to "Pyramus and Thisbe".
  • Dance Party Ending: For both the mortals and the fairies.
  • Death by Childbirth: Titania's mortal handmaiden and close friend, before the story begins, died giving birth to a baby boy. For her sake, Titania raises the boy as her own, and keeps him close.
  • Double Entendre: "Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword." Also pretty much every line in the play. The mechanicals are particularly bad about this, but unlike with Theseus, it's (probably) unintentional.
  • Elopement: Hermia and Lysander run off to do this, since Hermia is going to be forced into an Arranged Marriage to Demetrius (or put into a convent). However, events work out so that Demetrius cancels the wedding and the two are able to get married in Athens after all.
  • Eternal Love: Oberon and Titania.
  • Exact Words: Oberon specifically instructs Puck to put the love flower's juices on a man in "Athenian garb." Puck does just that...but the problem is there are two men in "Athenian garb"—Lysander and Demetrius—in the forest that night, and he doesn't know that Oberon meant the latter, not the former. When Oberon tries to take Puck to task for this, the fairy uses this trope to defend himself—he did just what the king ordered him to do, and thus can't be punished.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: There's a reason it's called A Midsummer Night's Dream. The action onstage all takes place in less than 48 hours, and most of it over one night.
  • The Fair Folk: Probably near-single-handedly responsible for ensuring a darkish version of the fairies was always remembered despite Victorian Bowdlerization, which is mildly ironic because one of Shakespeare's subversions in the show is that his fairies act more or less human and benevolently, vice the contemporary view that they were cruel and alien.
  • Final Speech: Parodied in the Show Within a Show. Bottom takes forever to die as Pyramus, and Hippolyta complains that he's such a bad actor, he doesn't deserve to have his Thisbe take forever to die for him: "I hope she will be brief." Can be a subverted parody, in Thisbe's final speech. Some interpretations have Flute actually turning out to be a good actor, dropping his bad falsetto, and using his final monologue to show what could have easily happened to the lovers. This gives Theseus's approval of the play (and his insistence that the epilogue was unnecessary) a very different connotation.
  • Fisher King: Disharmony between Oberon and Titania causes disharmony in the land and seasons.
  • The Fool: Puck plays the jester for Oberon, but the real Fool in this play is Bottom, whose accidental witticisms occasionally contain great insight (which goes right over his head). Note that in Shakespeare's plays, the fool is often wiser than he appears. Bottom is supposedly a great actor, though he doesn't show it. In some performances, Flute's final monologue becomes dramatic, when Flute finally gets fed up with being mocked and essentially states the (very relevant) message of Pyramus and Thisbe outright. The sudden change of tone is quite powerful, and would not have been possible had Bottom not ensured the rest of the play was hilariously bad. Generally this is portrayed as accidental, but not always.
  • The Ghost: The changeling boy, who causes the conflict between Titania and Oberon in the first place, never even appears on stage in the script. Some productions do have him appear, but obviously he doesn't get any lines.
  • Great Gazoo: Puck is one of the Trope Codifiers, as a magical trickster who causes most of the hilarity.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Titania accuses Oberon of being jealous over her love for the changeling boy.
    • Helena is also quite jealous of Demetrius's sudden pursuit of Hermia.
  • Happily Ever Before: In Greek mythology the Amazons rescue Hippolyta the day of their wedding, leading to Theseus instead pursue Helen of Troy. The play ends right before any of this goes down.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The American elision of "arse" to "ass" added an extra pun to Bottom's name.
  • He Really Can Act: An In-Universe example—some productions, such as the 1999 film, have Flute-as-Thisbe deliver his speech about Pyramus's death in the tomb in a genuinely moving, well-acted manner, which contrasts the hilariously amateurish style of the rest of the play-within-a-play.
  • Hollywood History: The Elizabethan version — the lifestyles of the ancient Greeks look very English. On the other hand, "fairy" was a common medieval and early modern translation for Greek νύμφη and Latin nympha.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: Lampshaded when Lysander tells Demetrius he should just marry Egeus, since Egeus loves him but Hermia doesn't!
  • I Gave My Word: Hermia gives Lysander a monologue essentially saying this when he asks her to come with him.
  • It Amused Me: Puck's screwing up with the love potion. Sure it was a mistake but he's enjoying the results. "Then will two at once woe one. That must needs be sport alone. All these things do best please me, that which falls preposterously."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Demetrius. Sure, he's sweet to Helena at the end—but it's the love potion talking.
  • Karma Houdini: Oberon humiliates his wife for an extremely petty reason, and gets exactly what he wanted out of it. Titania doesn't seem to care at all once the spell is removed.
  • Land of Faerie: The woods are inhabited by fairies, and Titania and Oberon would be the Queen and King of that land.
  • Large Ham:
    • Bottom. Also Flute, who idolizes him, and sometimes Quince, in the prologue.
    • Oberon as well, in some performances. It's hard to take lines like "I am / Invisible!" totally seriously.
  • The Lost Woods: They're populated by fairies.
  • Love at First Sight: The magic flower juice causes this. The consequences are hilarious.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The love spell turns Lysander and Demetrius into violent crazies who are prepared to duel for Helena's hand.
  • Love Martyr: Helena. At one point she claims she wouldn't mind if Demetrius treated her like a dog so long as she could be his dog. She also seems pretty unconcerned when he threatens to rape her. Granted, it's because she doesn't think he'd go through with it, but still.
  • Love Potion: The fairies' magic flower juice.
  • Malaproper: Bottom, who is the poster boy for this trope, saying, for example, 'odious' for 'odours' and 'Ninny's tomb' for 'Ninus' tomb' (Ninus was the legendary founder of Nineveh). Bottom goes onto say that the lion "deflowered my dear!" Instead of "devoured".
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: An In-Universe variation. Bottom firmly believes that he's such an incredible actor that he could easily play all of the roles in "Pyramus and Thisbe"...problem is, he's barely able to play his own role, let alone any other.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Played with in many productions. In the end, the lovers are left with nothing but their dreams which are startlingly consistent with one another and explain why Demetrius suddenly decided to come back to Helena. Theseus and Hippolyta discuss this when they argue about it (Hippolyta thinks it's magic, Theseus thinks it's mundane).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • All the mechanicals have meaningful names.
      • Bottom. He's an ass. The "bottom" was also a tool used in weaving.
      • The "quince" a tool used in carpentry.
      • Flute was a common name for a church organ, which, in Shakespeare's time, used a bellows to pump air; Francis Flute is a bellows-mender, or repairer of such items.
      • "Snout" in Elizabethan English meant simply "spout". Snout is a tinker, and tinkers mended teakettles.
      • "Starveling" means "someone who is thin from lack of food", and the stereotype about tailors was that they never had enough to eat.
      • Ironic Name: In the 1935 film, he is played by the chubby, jovial-looking Otis Harlan.
      • "Snug" is a good name for a joiner, who should be able to fit everything together snugly.
    • The name "Titania" comes from Ovid's Metamorphosis, where he assigns that name to the daughters of the Titans.
    • "Helena" means "light" or "torch". "Fair Helena, who more enguilds the night/Than all yon firey oes and eyes of light". Helena is supposed to be fair-haired and tall. This also an ironic wink at Helen of Troy and the many much-sought Helens based on her.
  • MST: During Pyramus and Thisbe. Possibly the Ur-Example.
  • MST3K Mantra: In-Universe, no less, as part of Puck's final soliloquy: "If the story offended you, remind yourself it was nothing but a dream."
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Demetrius wants Helena to stop following him because she's in danger of rape going out at night — and this while he still hates her. (Although his phrasing sort of suggests the danger comes from him.)
  • Mythology Gag: Pyramus and Thisbe can be considered a spot on lampoon of Shakespeare's other famous play Romeo and Juliet, complete with Star-Crossed Lovers, spoilerific prologue, and sudden Downer Ending. It's also a real myth, told by Ovid. Shakespeare based Romeo and Juliet on Pyramus and Thisbe, not the other way around.
  • Narm Charm: In-universe example: this is the court's reaction to the mechanicals' awful Show Within a Show.
    • First, there's Theseus's reaction to the goofy description of the play (as "merry and tragical [and] tedious and brief"):
    Theseus: I will hear that play, for never anything can be amiss, when simpleness and duty tender it.
    • Then the court is charmed by Bottom's pathos as Pyramus, despite his scenery chewing:
    Hippolyta: Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Surprisingly, Bottom, when Titania puts her entire fairy court at his service, takes time out to talk politely with several attending fairies and ask how their families are getting on. This may not be quite kindliness, depending on how the actor plays it — if Bottom thinks it's a dream, then he's just having fun and making a lot of bad puns, or he could be trying out the feeling of noblesse oblige. Or he's terrified of them. Nonetheless, he's making an effort.
  • No Fourth Wall: The audience was expected to interact with the players. There's a reason Robin tells the audience directly not to take it seriously.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Demetrius is doubly repulsed when Helena comes to him before she tells him the news.
  • Not What It Looks Like
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Puck's other name is Robin Goodfellow, and Starveling's first name is Robin.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Many contemporary productions of this play portray the fairies with some variation of this. In fact the original play used this trope by making the fairies actually less sinister than they were commonly portrayed at the time.
  • Overly Long Gag: The mechanicals' play goes on for way too long, and is that much the funnier for it.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord."
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Between the lovestruck kids and the great passive-aggressive fairie divorce settlement, people don't give much thought to the rude mechanicals. Bottom is the fool who has the best summation of the entire play: he gets his head turned into a donkey. Meaning, "Love makes asses of us all".
  • Pair the Spares: Demetrius and Helena ending up together functions as this. Some productions will subvert this by implying that Demetrius did love Helena and the love juice just reawakened those feelings - turning them into the Beta Couple.
  • Panthera Awesome: In the Show Within a Show, Thisbe is threatened by a lion.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Egeus orders Hermia to marry Demetrius instead of Lysander. It should be noted that Athenian Law dictated that a woman who disobeyed her father's will would be executed.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Oberon and Titania most definitely are this, moreso than possibly any other Shakespeare character. An argument between the two causes a massive hurricane. Not a fight, an argument.
  • Pet the Dog: Oberon is hardly the nicest of characters, but he does feel sorry for Helena and attempt to help her by getting Demetrius to fall in love with her. Unfortunately, that just makes things worse.
  • Playing a Tree:
    • In Pyramus and Thisbe, Tom Snout, one of the would-be rustic actors, plays a wall. Possibly the Ur-Example.
    • Robin Starveling wields a lantern as "Moonshine".
  • Plot Parallel: Titania falling under a love spell for Bottom parallels Lysander and Demetrius doing the same for Helena.
  • The Power of Friendship: Helena tries to use this trope to win over Hermia in the confusion in the woods when she thinks that Hermia betrayed her. It Doesn't Work. (Made worse in that Helena betrays Hermia first)
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: An In-Universe example with the Rude Mechanicals' play—they notice that the script calls for Pyramus and Thisbe to meet under the light of the moon. After consulting an almanac, they decide that it's better to have someone play the Moon itself rather than risk any problems.
  • Runaway Fiancée: Hermia, to avoid marrying Demetrius.
  • Shipper on Deck: Oberon really wants to see Helena's love for Demetrius reciprocated.
  • Show Within a Show: Pyramus and Thisbe, from the myth told by Ovid.
  • A Simple Plan: Lysander and Hermia's elopement seems like it should be simple...
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: Oberon's story of the magic flower for the love potion includes a mermaid's beautiful singing, though she calms the sea rather than lures anyone to death.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Nick Bottom is so confident of his abilities to the point that he believes that he can do anything. He can't.
  • So Bad, It's Good: invokedPyramus and Thisbe, when things are taken too literally, the play slowly turns from a tragedy to a comedy. But everybody gets a good laugh at the end.
  • Stealth Pun: A man whose name is Bottom gets given the head of an ass. There's some debate over whether "ass" was in common usage at the time, or if the play itself popularized the euphemism, or it evolved later. It's possible that "ass" and "arse" sounded similar in the accent of Shakespeare's day, as well.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Oberon tells Puck to smear the love potion on the eyes of a youth dressed in Athenian garb. Given the play is set in a forest just outside of Athens, it is perhaps not too surprising that Puck smears the potion on the eyes of the wrong youth dressed in Athenian garb. Puck even points this out to Oberon, when his king is blaming him for the resulting mess.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Show Within a Show. The Setting Update Get Over It made it a Totally Radical musical of the original play.
  • Take a Third Option: Or rather a fourth. Instead of marrying Demetrius, being executed or taking the veil, Hermia elopes with Lysander.
  • Taking the Veil: Offered to, and rejected by, Hermia.
  • Title Drop: The title comes from Nick Bottom's conclusion that the whole play was All Just a Dream.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Helena. Go run to the unknown woods, chasing after a guy that is very angry with your Psychotic Lover behaviour, who has a very short fuse. Demitrius openly states that it's "brave" of her and that he very well could "do [her] some mischief", which she doesn't seem nearly bothered enough by.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Despite the obvious application of the name, the only true example of the trope is when Helena rejects her former crush Demetrius because she thinks he's playing with her feelings.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: We know that Hermia and Lysander will try to elope, so of course we know it won't work.
  • Viewers Are Morons: What Bottom thinks that the audience of his So Bad, It's Good play is and takes things too literally, because he thinks that they don't have a Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Weddings for Everyone: The climax is at Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding, where the weddings of Lysander and Hermia and Helena and Demetrius are announced too.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Despite being set in Ancient Greece, Theseus alludes to the fairies coming out when the clock strikes at midnight.
  • Why Don't You Marry It?:
    Lysander: You have her father's love, Demetrius — let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him!


Productions and adaptations add examples of:

  • And You Were There: In many productions, the actors playing Theseus and Hippolyta also play Oberon and Titania. Theseus' servant Philostrate is usually Puck as well. Some productions even go the whole nine yards and double Flute, Snug, Snout and Starveling as Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed (in no particular order).
  • Ascended Extra: The changeling boy will often get portrayed on screen, when he's The Ghost in the original play.
  • Cast Full of Gay: In the Russell T. Davies version, as is expected. Flute and one of the Athens guardsmen hit it off, Titania is romantic with Oberon and Hippolyta, Demetrius sees Lysander under the love spell but also comments on Flute's attractiveness whilst the latter is playing Thisbe. As Hippolyta shows exactly zero affection for Theseus, we could conclude that gives two gay, two bisexual, and one lesbian in the characters.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: In some productions, one, some, most, or all of the fairies are played like this, Puck in particular.
  • Door Closes Ending: The 1935 film ends with Puck closing a door at Theseus's palace after giving his Breaking the Fourth Wall closing speech.
  • Fairy Sexy: Titania is often given a form-flattering gown.
  • Fake Shemp: Mickey Rooney had to be doubled by George Breakston in many scenes of the 1930s film, as he broke his leg during filming.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The 1968 film has all the fairies in green body paint. All of them, yes, but most of them are children, two of them are dudes, and only one is beautiful young Judi Dench wearing nothing but the green paint and ivy for pasties.
  • Horned Humanoid:
    • Oberon is this in many productions. In the 1930's version, it looks less like antlers, and more like he's suffering from a strange brachiating disease.
    • Many productions also horn Puck, most likely to play up his devilishness (and because Robin Goodfellow is depicted with horns in woodcuts from Shakespeare's time — he basically resembles a satyr).
  • I Have No Son: In the 1999 movie version, Egeus quietly excuses himself from his daughter's wedding, flashing Hermia a Death Glare. With no added dialogue, he made it clear, that he would never forgive Hermia, for going against his wishes, and marrying Lysander.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: A common way to play Oberon's relationship with Titania. In the scene where he disenchants her, he's just won her changeling boy without a fight, and he's humiliated her as much as could be wished. But while that would have been a fine laugh in Elizabethan days, to modern audiences it comes off as smug and mean. So actors might play Oberon as despondent, realizing that a Titania, who'll obey his every command isn't the proud, and fiery Queen he fell in love with.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: As noted above, the "Mendelssohn" part, namely the now-traditional wedding recessional music, was originally written by Felix Mendelssohn as part of his incidental music for an 1842 stage production of this play.
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You: Depending on the director, the play has this when Bottom returns to the Mechanicals, after his adventure with the fairies.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Lysander and Hermia go on just such a date early in the 1968 film as they plot their escape from Athens.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: The 1996 Adrian Noble directed film features a majority of the characters in Victorian/Edwardian sleepwear the whole way through.
  • Significant Double Casting: Several productions have the same actors play Oberon / Theseus and Titania / Hippolyta. Partly because there's something of a parallel between their two marriages, and the significance will no doubt be clear to the audience, partly because a) this way you don't have two actors off-stage for most of the play, and b) the four characters never appear on stage at the same time, so you can get away with it.

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