Theseus, Duke of Athens (Jeffery Kissoon) and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons (Noma Dumezweni) have met on the battlefield, her hand in marriage the trophy for his victory. The language of their opening scene is formal and measured, yet reflects the true feelings which Theseus has for her, and his desire for their marriage to be based upon love and not merely a political union. His choice of language and imagery betray genuine emotion, and impatience for their wedding day.
Shakespeare takes pains to differentiate their love from the passionate outbursts demonstrated by the young lovers. In his speech at the opening of Act V, Theseus draws parallels between the lover and the mad man, contrasting the fevered imaginings of the lover with the calm voice of reason.
In the Chichester Festival Theatre production, the characters of Theseus and Oberon, and Hippolyta and Titania are doubled ie played by the same performers. For director Gale Edwards, this serves to underline the contrasting types of love which the two couples demonstrate.