In A Midsummer Night's Dream, what does Theseus think of the lovers' adventures? Why does Hippolyta initially seem hesitant to watch the play?
Theseus doesn't believe them, and thinks that their imaginations have quite a lot to do with it. Theseus contradicts Hippolyta's opinion that the lovers' stories are "strange", by telling her
More strange than true....
Moreover, talking of the imagination, he suggests that the mind,
...if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear?
They have, Theseus thinks, seen what they wanted to see.
Hippolyta is hesitant to watch the play, quite simply, because she fears that the mechanicals aren't up to the job:
I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service perishing.
"They can do nothing in this kind", she thinks - the mechanicals won't be able to act, and pull off the play. She's worried she might be about to witness a theatrical disaster.
Theseus thinks the lovers are unwise and at some point after Pyramus’s death he sarcastically states that if Pyramus were to be assisted by a surgeon, he would survive and come off as a “donkey”. Theseus has no pity for Pyramus and thinks his death was unnecessary. At the end of the play Theseus is very disappointed at how the two lovers met their death. His suggestion is the play should have ended differently since in the presentation the lovers have been portrayed as impulsive individuals, as seen when Pyramus does not take his time to look for Thisbe’s remains to at least confirm her death.
Hippolyta is opposed to the play because she knows of the story, and believes that the two lovers’ misery should not be overplayed. She would have liked a different themed play better.
“I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged, And duty in his service perishing.”