THESEUS I wonder if the lion be to speak.
Despite the fact that Demetrius would have known nothing of Bottom’s transformation, I expect this line would have garnered raucous laughter from the audience, no? Surely deliberate on Shakespeare’s part.
Or, this one: (speaking presumably about actors)
The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst
are no worse, if imagination amend them.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
Once I spotted that I could just picture Puck delivering his “shadows” in quotes as if to say, “Yeah, actors, that’s us that Theseus was talking about a minute ago.”
Am I imagining these? What about the epilogue from As You Like It, delivered by Rosalind?
It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue;
If I were a woman I
would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased
me, complexions that liked me and breaths that I
defied not: and, I am sure, as many as have good
beards or good faces or sweet breaths will, for my
kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.
If she were a woman? If? So, basically, this is a written acknowledgement that Rosalind is speaking as the male actor who’d been performing a female role?