Thursday, 10 November 2011
The RSC, love and the space of reasons
By contrast, a full blown RSC production seems to be a good way to deal with A Midsummer Night’s Dream (though I couldn’t get on with Lucy Briggs-Owen’s performance - too much! – nor the very odd rockabilly interlude near the end). The foreknowledge that the mechanicals play within a play is yet to come always hangs over me. But a comment of Lois’ suggested what might be a deeper cause of dislike.
It is an infuriating play because of the way that love is presented as a kind of nomologically dangler or, rather, something utterly outside rationality or reason. The love-drug deployed by Oberon and Puck changes nothing about its victims but their love objects. So there’s nothing cognitive about their attitudes: just a brute affect. That seems odd because Shakespeare often persuasively and dramatically shows how love justifies and is justified. It is a standing, of sorts, in the space of reasons. Normally he enables us to see the breadth of that space when properly understood. But not here.