A Midsummers Night's Dream (Barnes & Noble Shakespeare) - David Scott Kastan, Mario DiGangi, William Shakespeare After the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, inspired in part by Ovid’s retelling of the Babylonian story Pyramus and Thisbe, Shakespeare reincorporates Pyramus and Thisbe in a more humorous light in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Again, young lovers defy parental authority but, unlike Paris in Romeo and Juliet, the spurned intended, Demetrius, seeks out to reclaim his reticent wife-to-be. As they all enter the forest, followed by Helena, the forgotten suffering adorer of Demetrius, love is sent askew by the machinations of potion-wielding faires, most notably Robin Goodfellow A.K.A Puck. There’s a silly side story of the fairy queen falling in love with an ass-headed man (not being crude, really, he has a donkey’s head) just to add some minotaur freakiness to the whole affair.

Though it touches on the tragic nature of love not meant to be, it’s a pretty light hearted play. Even the tragic play-within-a-play of Pyramus and Thisbe is performed outrageously bad for comedic effect. The language seems much more accessible than some other of Shakespeare’s plays, but I’d still highly recommend the Barnes & Noble editions edited by Mario Digani. The notes accompanying the play are incredibly helpful for content and subtext.