In Athens, the laborers meet to rehearse. But without Bottom, whom they consider the only man in Athens able to perform the role of Pyramus, they fear the play is ruined. With the news that there will be two other marriages along with the Duke's, the men become certain that their fortunes would have been made if they could have performed their play. As the men despair, Bottom enters. The men ask where he's been, but he responds only that it's time for them to perform their play.
The contrast of the laborer's hopes about their obviously terrible play offers a vivid contrast to the intense emotions of the forest. It is the difference between reality and dreams. The fact that their play fails to approach the power of dream emphasizes that Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, succeeds.