These days, I have fewer than a dozen DVDs. Most of them, like almost all, are various versions of Shakespeare’s plays, the movie version of Henry V, and Sir Ian’s Richard III, all classics in their own rights. In that mix, I’ve also got a handful of classically-acted BBC version of the plays, and one mid-90’s, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, notable for a cast of luminaries — stars at the time.
“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (III.ii.115)
It’s a single line, an actor and his gesture, in that play. While I’ve seen Midsummer several times on stage, the somewhat campy, somewhat stilted version, a bit dated, even now, as a historical artifact, it holds up well.
There’s a single line, a simple gesture, and I can’t find it at the moment, not without carving out a few hours to parse through the movie version, yet again, and keep a copy of the play open in text form. Bit redundant. I glanced at my digital copy of the play, and I thought it was around halfway through, but again, the mental acuity just isn’t there. This is a single thought about a single line, and I can’t even recall the exact quote.
In the play, in that version of the play, Puck delivers the information that he mixed up the people he dosed with the love potion. It’s a classic scene, covers many variations and themes, and is applicable to this day.
“Look, boss, I did what you said, to the letter. I squirted the juice into the eyes of the sleeping city-folk in our woods. Exactly what you told me, right?”
The way I recall scene in the movie? Oberon is reclining, in the woods, and Puck delivers the bad news, pointing out that, as a Puck, he did exactly what he was told to do.
He followed his instructions.
He followed his instructions — to the letter — which, as a puckish fellow, he doesn’t always do.
The line, and I don’t recall it’s exact wording or location, but the Puck is delivering the bad news that he mixed up the weird city folks running amuck in the forest, the land of the fairies. Easy enough for a spirit of the forest to get confused about city-folk since they all look the same.
In that film version, the actor playing Oberon is classically trained, and he has this gentle, bemused, angry, but not really, all couched with a smirk. Or a laugh, but not quite a giggle.
It’s that smirk, that acknowledgement of a mistake, yet the resignation — and understanding — like the old bumpersticker that popular years back?
Anyway, I kept thinking about that smirk. That laugh, that acknowledgment that some action went horribly awry. Some instructions got so fouled up even the gods couldn’t sort out the mess.
It was that gesture, when I was recalling it, what I was thinking, Oberon, resting, listening to his Puck tell about the mix-up. Smirk? Laugh? Giggle?
It’s a humorous acknowledgment that there is mistake wherein no one is blamed, but a cock-up of epic proportions. Even the gods can’t sort it out.
Puck? Puck is a trickster, and as such, this is a perfect example of how to respond when Mercury is in Retrograde.
A single line, a simple expression. Conveys all we need to know.
It’s as if the king of the fairies shrugs, “Well. Damn. That didn’t go as planned.”