A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an adaptation of the 1595 comedic play, written by William Shakespeare, with the same name. The play is directed by Julie Taymor and was initially released in New York in 2014. The two-hour-long play is produced by Lynn Hendee, Ben Latham-Jones, Ealing Studios, and Londinium Films. It features performances by Kathryn Hunter, David Harewood, Tina Benko, Robert Langdon Lloyd, and Lilly Englert among others. In addition, the play was filmed at Taylor’s old film house with cinematography done by Rodrigo Prieto and music composition done by Elliot Goldenthal. The costume design is done by Constance Hoffman. The play adopts the typical Shakespearean theatric performance infused with a comedic element. It follows the story of young lovers entangled in a series of magical sprites. An analytical exploration of Kathryn Hunter’s role as Puck is essential since it helps to adequately understand the settings, stage, and the performance associated with the play.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Has Numerous Actors
An important aspect worth noting is that the A Midsummer Night’s Dream has numerous actors, each of whom contributes to the plot summary. Of utmost importance is the character of Puck, who is portrayed as a supernatural entity filled with magical powers. This creates some difficulty in determining her or his gender. The motivation towards the exploration of Puck is based on the character’s amusement and trickster traits. Additionally, Puck is presented as someone whose special powers bring together the main characters in the play (Bloom and Marson 33). Shakespeare has been able to present Puck’s shadowing powers in an epilogue whereby she talks about other actors. Further, the manner of presentation and appearance of Puck’s character serves to compliment the costume and vocal elements of the play.
The set of the play is located in an old film house theatre that depicts a typical setting for a theatrical comedy. Upon entering the theatre, only the stage is visible, considering that there is limited lighting from the background. The audience can only be slightly figured out in their respective seats. Initially, there are no performances on the stage apart from a single bed covered by white sheets. Additionally, the stage does not have enough lighting, and enough illumination only appears after the first performer hit the stage. There is a piece of soft music playing that smoothly subdues as the performers enter the stage. The dark background in the stage creates the desired mood typical of many theatrical performances.
Kathryn Hunter manages to effectively portray Puck’s character, whereby her movement, gesture, speech, and gestures seem to abode well with other actors. Her role as the sprite who serves as King Oberon sprite significantly makes it possible to demonstrate her superior monologue skills (Bloom and Marson 40). During the various occasions where she is conversing with Oberon, she manages to utilize high pitch and vocals to exemplify the character of a supernatural entity. She moves around the stage in a manner that interlaces good gestures and vocals. It is the manner in which Hunter manages to engage the audience that makes her performance exemplary. Besides, she comfortably manages to interact with other actors, thereby supplementing their roles in the play.
Overall, Puck’s character is humorous and mischievous as evident through her engagement with other characters. In particular, Puck’s interaction with other fairies in the play represents a profound level of relationship. There is a scene where Puck, Oberon, Tatiana, and the Fairies are seen dancing much to the amusement of the audience. It is also noteworthy that Puck’s mischievous character is evident through her ability to desist from forgiving or asking from forgiveness from other characters. To her, she does not seem less perturbed because according to her, everything is just a dream. An interesting and exemplary performance from Puck is at the very end of the play where she makes amends with the characters and goes to inform the audience that what they might have experienced was just a dream.
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells the story of love intertwined in various dreams encountered by the actors. In a way, the play is based on the need to have a good matching love, albeit in the midst of conflicts and disagreements. Love seems to be characterized by jealousy, falling marriages, drugs, and even gotten genuinely. However, it is the main conflict is encountered when the love interests of several characters take centre stage. It is imperatively difficult for the characters to maintain a good balance between whom they love and who they ought to love. In an attempt to fight for their love, the characters get into a point where they engage in ill-tempered measures driven by jealousy and anger (Bloom and Marson 45). A good case in point is Oberon who instructs Puck to reverse Lysander’s attraction to Helena. Essentially, the play’s main source of conflict is hinged on the ability of the characters to get true love.
As the play progresses, expectations are rife that the characters will eventually get the love they desire. There are several cases of major climaxes that suggests that maybe indeed the characters might actually fulfil their desires. Nonetheless, the characters engage in various actions that are ill-motivated, and that seems to revert the order of the things related to love. The stage has been set to accommodate the wedding for all couples, which gives the audience a good glimpse of an impending climax. Shakespeare manages to infuse a comedic element into the play that sees the Mechanics plot their play the Pyramus and Thisbe (Bloom and Marson 45). In particular, the intended play is supposed to culminate in Theseus’ wedding, which turns out to interference with the wedding preparations of the other characters.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Does Not See to Have a Real Climax
Intrinsically, A Midsummer Night’s Dream does not seem to have a real climax, especially based on the manner in which characters choose to resolve conflicts among themselves. At the end of each scene, somehow the ensuing conflicts are resolved using some means. Consequently, at the beginning of the next scene, the same conflicts spurred by love seem to reappear. The only time the audience witness a momentary episode of climax is when Puck seems to be emotionally amused towards the end of the play. The emotion is created by the fact that both Demetrius and Lysander seems to be chasing Helena, a scenario that makes Puck to regard them as fools. Eventually, the play ends with Puck indicating to the audience that all that they were witnessing was just a dream.
The setting and the stage of the play augers well with the theme of the play as it is characteristic of the majority of Shakespearian play. The lighting used in the play is quite commendable, especially in the manner in which it alternates among several scenes. On the same note, the backstage lighting is well balanced with the area occupied by the audience. Considering the number of characters in the play, the director has been exceptional in having a good balance of the sounds settings much to the comfort of the audience (Bloom and Marson 49). Throughout the play, it is easy to figure out and discern what the characters are saying to each other. The director has also exceptionally managed to provide outstanding sound aids to accompany Puck’s performances. It is also essential to comment on the costume used in the play. In particular, the characters’ costume to a great extent, matches and adheres to the main themes. For instance, the costume worn by the mechanics is a representative of the typical outwears donned during the initial period of the play.
In conclusion, the stage, setting and performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are well articulated to meet the expectations of the audience. The lighting, sounds, and costumes illustrate the producer’s and director’s ability to understand the audience requirements. Following Puck’s performances, it is possible to understand how an act can use gesticulations, vocals, and pitch to improve the interaction with the audience. In addition, Puck’s character has been exemplarily utilized to illustrate the required level of interaction among several characters. Although the play does not have a major climax, it is essential to recognize the manner in which love is presented as the main source of conflict. Overall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an example of those performances that leave the audience greatly satisfied.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” directed by Julie Taymor. , produced by Lynn Hendee, and Ben Latham-Jones. , BOND/360, 2014. Alexander Street, https://video-alexanderstreet- com.ezproxy.shoreline.edu/watch/a-midsummer-night-s-dream-3.
Bloom, Harold, and Janyce Marson. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Infobase Publishing, 2008.