"A Midsummer Night's Dream": In 1593, William Shakespeare leads his band of actors across the hills of Sussex, England. Among them is his son Hamnet, whom his mother has forced Will to take on, given his recent bouts of abs
Synopsis for "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In 1593, William Shakespeare leads his band of actors across the hills of Sussex, England. Among them is his son Hamnet, whom his mother has forced Will to take on, given his recent bouts of absentia.
They stop their caravan in the middle of the road, and Will meets with Dream on a nearby hill. Will and Dream have come to a deal wherein Dream has given Will the ability to have his words remembered throughout time in exchange for having two plays about dreams written for him. The first of these is A Midsummer Night's Dream, which the troupe have been preparing to play for him. Unusually, Dream requests that they put on the play right there on the hill in the grass.
Surprisingly, instead of a human audience, Dream welcomes the fairies themselves to come and see the play which was written about them. Auberon and Titania lead a congregation of fairies including Puck and Peasblossom to sit in the grass and watch the mortals imitate them. In playing their parts, the actors are surprised and nervous to be playing for real fairies, and likewise, the fairies are amused by their portrayals.
During the play, Titania takes particular interest in Hamnet, and Dream promises that she can meet him during the interval. Offstage, Hamnet is annoyed by his father's obsession with play-writing, having only seen him rarely until his mother ordered that he be taken along on this tour. The boy feels no pride in his father's abilities, and wishes only to be treated as a son should be.
During the interval, the actors petition Auberon for some payment, and he reluctantly gives them a small sack of gold. Meanwhile, Puck steals his own role from the mortal actor and decides to play himself in the next act. Tatania approaches Hamnet, and speaks to him of the wonder of the fairie land.
Dream speaks to Will, complimenting him on the finely crafted play. Will comments that it may even rival his friend Kit Marlowe's work. Dream matter-of-factly informs him that Marlowe was murdered three weeks ago. Dream is surprised when Will seems distraught to hear the news. As the play resumes, Dream begins to wonder if it was right to make his deal with Shakespeare.
Dream confides in Tatania that the cost to Will is likely to be greater than the mortal can fathom. Even so, he knows that Will would have taken the deal whether he had known of the cost or not, which is why Dream feels responsible for the results.
The fairies feel uncomfortable on the earthly plane, as their time has already ended. Dream explains that he called them there in order to show them that they will live on well beyond their time through the play. As it comes to an end, Auberon, Tatania, and the other fairies return to their world, but Puck decides to stay behind. He causes all of the mortals to fall asleep.
The actors wake on the hillside in confusion. They are angered to find that the sack of gold they were given has turned into a sack of golden flowers instead, but Shakespeare reminds them that no other troupe has played for such an audience. Hamnet reveals that he had a strange dream of joining Tatania in the land of fairies. Hamnet died not long after at the age of eleven, and Puck's whereabouts were never discovered.
Appearing in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
- Will Kemp
- Dick Cowely
- Henry Condell
- Richard Burbage
- King Auberon (First appearance)
- Queen Titania (First appearance)
- Robin Goodfellow
- This issue is reprinted in Essential Vertigo: Sandman #19, Sandman: Dream Country and The Absolute Sandman, Volume One.