All in all, I’d say it could have done with fewer fairies.

Reading William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This play is not something I am particularly drawn to and don’t particularly enjoy (though it is amusing seeing some of the characters go all  Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the players’ unintentionally hilarious play).  But there is something a bit stunning about considering plays like this within Shakespeare’s ouvre.  Consider what the modern day Shakespeare’s career as a television writer would be (and the modern day Shakespeare would be a television writer, grinding for money and trying to entertain broad audiences).   After an early career writing episodes of The Twilight Zone (things like Titus Andronicus), William get commissioned by the History Channel to write a series of docu-dramas glorifying American presidents.  From there, William creates a string of sitcoms that are critically beloved and/or massively popular with big audiences (think Seinfeld, Arrested Development, and Friends).  After basically declaring himself the king of television comedy, William moves on to write dramas that are universally recognized for their innovation, originality, and brilliance (think The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, and Mad Men).  It’s unfathomable.

But that is not to say it’s a mystery that the author of King Lear might also be extraordinarily funny.  No doubt there is a common well that makes Shakespeare a genius writer of tragedy, a genius poet, and a genius comedian.  I would call it his utterly unique ironic insight that is the source of all of these powers.

How did I come to be reading this play?

My wife is co-directing a high school production; as a lover of the Bard it’s rather a bizarre shame I had not gotten around to reading this yet, and thought I should know the material before I go to watch.  I am told that it’s a play that, while I may find it uneven and a bit dull in the reading, can be spectacularly funny in the performance (and I suspect it is so).

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