A Midsummer Night's Mash-Up

A Midsummer Night's Mash-Up

A Story by J.P. Paradise

Shakespeare's comedy retold through modern media


From ‘Hello!’ (Athenian edition) website:

Whilst the nuptial hour draws on apace for Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, bouncing amazon and buskined mistress, it would appear that all is not well within the aristocratic circles of Athens. Rumours have been circulating of a love triangle between Hermia, daughter of Egeus, and two rivals in the forms of Demetrius, favoured by the father, and Lysander. Whilst this is not unusual in itself, it would seem, according to our source within the royal household, that Egeus begged the Duke for the ancient privilege of Athens. Now, what is this privilege I hear you ask? Well, a quick trawl through the many statutes reveals that a father may force his daughter to marry the man of his choice or have her put to death if she refuses! Shocked? We certainly are!

Fortunately it appears that the Duke is a more rational man and decreed that Hermia either submit to her father’s wishes or abjure for ever the society of men and endure the livery of a nun for the rest of her life. Harsh? We think so but still a better alternative than putting one’s own daughter to death!

Now, if you think that is the end of the matter, think again. During the Duke’s interrogation of the young men concerned it would seem that Demetrius has form in the love game, having already broken the heart of Helena, Nedar’s daughter. Having shifted his affections elsewhere he leaves this poor girl bereft and pining for his absent love. What of Lysander? He hath bewitched the bosom of Hermia and they are both passionately devoted to each other. This reporter, lurking in a gossip’s bowl, believes that this can only end badly and that love’s labour’s lost.

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BBC Radio Athens news: 

“Concern is mounting for the missing youths of Athens after the four love-struck teenagers vanished overnight. Police are searching the woods a mile without the town for Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena. Philostrate, Master of Revels, requests that any information about the wayward teenagers be forwarded to the police.

“Thou shalt know the man by the Athenian garments he hath on,” he said in an unfamiliar voice during a press conference.  When pressed for clarity on the matter he seemed to become confused.

“About the wood go swifter than the wind, and Helena of Athens look thou find.” This was presumably a plea for locals to search for the missing youths. If anyone does have information that may be of use please contact the police on Act 02 01 44.”

From the Athens Gazette & Herald:

The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe - Preview:

Every man’s name which is thought fit through all Athens to play in the interlude before the Duke and Duchess on his wedding day at night feature in this classic piece. Director Peter Quince has set himself the onerous task of entertaining the royal household during the wedding feast with a contemporary take on this play from antiquity. Am-dram stalwart Nick Bottom, the weaver, takes on the title role of Pyramus, a lover, that kills himself most gallant for love. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender, plays opposite Bottom as Thisbe, the lady that Pyramus must love, though we understand that there was some reluctance on behalf of Flute to take the part for he has a beard coming. Robin Starveling, the tailor, takes on the equally challenging role of Thisbe’s mother whilst Tom Snout, the tinker, provides support in the shape of Pyramus’ father. Not content with merely directing, Quince also takes on the mantle of Thisbe’s father. If you were wondering whether Snug the joiner, an audience favourite at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, has been left out then fear not, for he will play the lion’s part. Rehearsals are being undertaken in secret for, as Quince says, if they meet in the city they shall be dogged with company and their devices known. One performance and by invitation only.

From the Athenian Telegraph:

All’s Well That Ends Well - Missing Youths Found

Athens search and rescue teams have been stood down after the missing quartet of Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena (old Nedar’s daughter) are found safe and well. The missing teenagers were discovered by Theseus whilst out hunting with Hippolyta and Egeus. None of the youths can recall exactly how they came to be where they were and how they came to be together, for each swears that they had separated from their partner during the night, becoming hopelessly lost. There is some speculation that some or all of the party may have been drugged. What is interesting to note is that the previous judgement handed down on Hermia by the Duke appears to have been lifted, and grudgingly accepted by Egeus, due to Demetrius shifting his affections back to his former lover, Helena. Once police have debriefed the four to determine whether the whole affair was much ado about nothing, in the temple by and by with the Duke and Hippolyta, these couples shall eternally be knit.

Several questions have been raised about the search for the missing youths. It has been noted that despite the Duke’s hounds being bred out of the Spartan kind, whilst out hunting they seemed to miss four young adults huddled together in a wood, which does question their scent-tracking abilities. This has led to some wags suggesting that Thesus’s hounds are all bark and no bite. Tongues have also been wagging as to Egeus’s perceived lack of paternal care towards his daughter for not only requesting the Duke’s permission to have her put to death for disobedience, but also going hunting whilst his only daughter was known to be missing.

From the Athenian Stage:

The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe - Review

Peter Quince’s one-off production, performed by the hard-handed men that work in Athens, seemed to have a title most apt for it was indeed lamentable and was certainly a comedy, although for all the wrong reasons. That the Duke and his retinue endured it raises them in this reviewer’s esteem.

Quince himself, departing from the published script, gave a rambling prologue outlining the forthcoming performance in such detail one was left wondering why the other actors had bothered to turn up. Sadly, they felt that their presence was warranted and proceeded with a performance so appalling it can only be described as a comedy of errors.

Tom Snout, the tinker, opened the piece by explaining that he was playing a wall. The explanation was necessary as his costume gave him every appearance of a man who has fallen into a cement mixer. For an inanimate object the wall did have a lot to say for itself. Unfortunately, so did Nick Bottom, the weaver, playing Pyramus, who hammed up his role so much that he seemed to be more pantomime dame than classic hero. Francis Flute, the bellows mender, gave a very unconvincing turn as Thisbe, the object of Pyramus’s affections. He looked deeply uncomfortable in the role and the dress as well, which left nothing to the imagination. 

Despite frequent banter and heckling from the Duke’s retinue the company forged on. Robin Starveling, the tailor, upset by the heckling from the audience, nearly broke down in tears trying to explain his character of the man in the moon, though his dog clearly won the hearts of the ladies in the crowd. Turn of the night and saving grace of the performance was that of Snug the joiner, playing the lion, extempore for it nothing but roaring, and was clearly in his element and lapped up the laughter as he chased Thisbe around the stage. Things went rapidly downhill from that point. Pyramus’s death scene went on, and on, and on until it appeared that the Duke himself was tempted to get up on stage and finish the job off. Fortunately, Thisbe, who upon discovering Pyramus’s body and being unable to face life without him, decided to do the decent thing and despatched herself quickly, thus winning the loudest and most deserved applause of the evening.

The Duke, ever courteous, politely declined Bottom’s offer of an epilogue, much to the relief of all those watching. The most lamentable thing about this production was that it was ever staged at all, else the puck a liar call. So, good night unto you all.

© 2021 J.P. Paradise

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Added on July 12, 2021
Last Updated on July 12, 2021
Tags: Shakespeare, comedy, parody


J.P. Paradise
J.P. Paradise

Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Occasional writer, serial procrastinator.I write tales that are sometimes comedic, often tragic, and nearly always very dark. Bad things happen to good people, even worse things happen to bad people.. more..