So, Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, are getting married! The whole of the city-state will celebrate. Except Egeus, one of the Duke’s confidantes, has an egregious personal problem: his rebellious daughter Hermia will not follow his choice for her arranged marriage with Demetrius, and wants to marry for love with Lysander. It is an affront to the way things have always been done! Rather than death or a nunnery, Lysander and Hermia plan to run away, enlisting the complicity of Hermia’s childhood pal, Helena. Helena is still desperately in love with Demetrius, and exposes the secret plot in hopes Demetrius will finally come to his senses. Meanwhile in another part of the city, six laborers want to put on a play for the Duke’s wedding festivities, led in spirit by the most humble and histrionic Bottom the Weaver. They are given their roles to memorize, and agree to meet in the same forest the young couples will escape to that night.
Enter the Fairies. In that same forest. Oberon and Titania, king and queen of that magical, mysterious breed, are having a tiff. Oberon, using his knowledge of enchanted plants, seeks to play a trick on Titania, and also help the lovers find their true mates. But plans go awry, when Puck, the mischievous sprite, first anoints Lysander’s eyes with the love potion, instead of Demetrius. In correcting his mistake, Helena becomes the object of desire for both of the men, and poor Hermia is forsaken. Puck gets it right with Titania, and adds his own impish touch, disrupting the play rehearsal by turning Bottom the Weaver into a donkey, who becomes the new object of Titania’s adoration. The love keeps flowing, just in the completely wrong direction.
Thankfully, Oberon has the antidote, and the human couples are reunited with their match, Titania and Oberon make peace, and they head back to Athens for the wedding celebration. Bottom returns to the troupe, and they perform their play in front of the Duke and all is well. But, “what a long, strange trip it’s been!”