Author: William Shakespeare | Page Count: 120
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind."
AMND is a confusing first read for a lot of people; it certainly was for me many years ago. It seems as if there are too many characters to keep track of, but there really isn't. A common hurdle is that a large portion of the play focuses on two men and two women. The two men are both in love with the same woman, a woman who loves just one of the men. There's a second woman in love with one of the men that loves the first woman. You follow?
That, believe it or not, isn't the confusing part. The real head-fuck comes when the King of Faerie, Oberon, or more precisely his loyal aide, the pernicious fairy Puck, gets involved. There's a mix-up with a love potion and then everything goes tits-up. If you can see it performed on stage do so, because it really helps.
Leaving that aside, it's a comedy, so there's laughs, right? Oh, yes; most of which spring from the staging of a play within the play. Things are getting puzzling again. Sorry. The short version: there's a level of unnecessary self-censorship and second-guessing that reaches absurdist levels, many unlucky coincidences, a clingy lover or two, much innuendo, and a butt-load of ass jokes.
It's set in Athens but it's believed that Shakespeare wasn't particularly well-travelled, so his exotic locations can feel more like they're just down the road from Stratford-upon-Avon. But that, I guess, just adds to the comedic value.
4 love-shafts out of 5