While meandering about an enchanted forest outside Athens, the impish sprite Puck magically transports four mortals to the court of Theseus, Duke of Athens. There the foursome — a pair of happy lovers, Hermia and Lysander, and their unhappy friends, Helena and Demetrius — plead their cases to Theseus. Hermia and Lysander love each other, but Hermia’s father demands that she marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, but he jilted her. Demetrius now loves Hermia. Theseus informs Hermia that according to Athenian law she must marry Demetrius; after which, Puck returns the four to the forest.
A fairy-enchanted woods outside Athens
Oberon, king of the fairies, and his queen, Titania, are squabbling over possession of her littlest attendant. Oberon sets out to win the argument through a sneaky plan: He sends out his servant Puck, already known as a troublemaker, to find a magical flower. The juice of the flower when dropped on the eyelids during sleep brings love for the first living thing seen when waking. Oberon plans to spite Titania with the drug while she is asleep and unaware.
In the meantime, the happy pair of lovers, Hermia and Lysander, and their unhappy friends, Helena and Demetrius, stray into the forest. Oberon overhears Demetrius reject Helena; and in a moment of compassion for her, he instructs Puck to charm Demetrius into love with Helena by also placing drops of the magic potion on Demetrius’s eyelids.
Puck, for all his cleverness, mistakenly anoints the wrong man: Lysander. When Helena appears, Lysander, under the flower’s magic, at once tells her how much he loves her. An astonished Hermia becomes dismayed when she sees Lysander paying attention only to Helena. Puck manages to complicate things further for the four mortals by also bringing Demetrius under the flower’s spell – to care for Helena, too. Now both in love with Helena, Lysander and Demetrius begin to quarrel over her.
Meanwhile, adding to the chaos in the same forest is a group of tradesman rehearsing a play to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. To heighten his master’s revenge on Titania, the impish Puck separates Bottom, a rather ridiculous and self-assured weaver, from his companions. Puck transforms Bottom’s head into that of a donkey and places him at the feet of the sleeping Titania. When Titania awakens and sees Bottom, she lavishly dotes on the unsuspecting Bottom.
Oberon eventually gets over his anger and decides it is time for all good sport to come to an end. Puck puts right everything that was awry. With all differences resolved, the Duke of Athens proclaims a triple wedding for himself and Hippolyta and for the two couples.
The palace of Theseus, Duke of Athens
The curtain opens on the Duke’s palace with a celebration in honor of the newly married couples. Oberon and Titania are reunited and at peace. Puck sweeps away the remnants of the night’s doings as fireflies twinkle in the night and reclaim the forest.
Wow, that's a lot of characters! Check out this character chart to learn who's who!