Perhaps It Was a Dream

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend

More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,

Are of imagination all compact:

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,

That is, the madman; the lover, all as frantic,

Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And, as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Such tricks hath strong imagination,

That, if it would but apprehend some joy,

It comprehends some bringer of that joy;

Or in the night, imagining some fear,

How easy is a bush suppos’d a bear!

My wife and I drove down to Atlanta last night to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Atlanta’s New American Shakespeare Tavern. Almost too much fun. I was weary of laughing by the end.

The play seemed to end before it truly ended. In fact since Act V is mostly a poorly written tragedy performed by buffons who have “never labour’d in their minds till now,” it’s appropriate to have only a weak connection to the rest of the story. In that act, the silliness wore on me–well done and the crowd was roaring, but my laughter softened a bit. Maybe it was the lateness of the night.

It was a great play, though. I’ll see it again sometime.

6 thoughts on “Perhaps It Was a Dream”

  1. I actually really like the spoof play in the last act. Its brillant in it own way, and Midsummer Night’s Dream doesn’t have the emotional heft as some of the others (e.g. Much Ado). So it doesn’t seem to matter that it has a only slight connection to the rest of the story.

  2. This performance was strong, funny, and had many impromptu moments with the crowd. Everyone seemed to love it, but I was tired. The play seemed to drag at that point.

    Does the spoof play add something to the whole story for you, Emily? Give it more closure or punch?

  3. Am recommending to you and your wife, “Smoke on the Mountain” which is actually at “The Colonade” (sp) in Ringgold until August 18th and 19th. It will save you a trip across the mountain to Crossville to the Cumberland County Playhouse, unless you need another trip out of town for the Fall. Take kleenex because you laugh so hard that you cry. Lots of fun.

  4. I think it assists the rest of the story by making a mockery of the dying for romantic love ideal. My pet Shakespeare theory right now is that he didn’t believe in/ever portray successful romantic love. If that’s true, then the Bottom comedy is a fitting fifth act.

  5. Never portrayed successful romantic love? What does “successful” mean? The hero and heroine of Merchant of Venice live and love happily ever after, don’t they? Doesn’t one of the Two Gentlemen of Verona get Sylvia in the end?

  6. Successful as in marriage that would work beyond the dance in the closing scene. (One a reasonable person would want to be part of for the next 50 years.) I really don’t think Porti and Bassanio would have a very happy marriage… there is the whole Antonio issue, as well as the fact that she obviously far outstrips him in intelligence. (Sorry, have a fuzzy enough recollection of Two Gentlemen that I can’t really comment.)

    The only long-married couple we are shown with any degree of intimacy is the Macbeths. Not exactly happily ever after.

    This is Stephen Greenblatt’s theory, but, even so, I’m fairly convinced. Biographically, Shakespeare doesn’t really seem to have experienced a happy marriage or successful love affair. (Anne Hathaway, the dark lady and W.H. being the known options.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.