The play-within-a-play structure serves the function of recapping many important themes of The first play-within-a-play is a performance of Pyramus and Thisbe played by the laborers.
It is similar to the main play in many aspects including commons in the story of the Athenian lovers and some of the overall themes.
On one hand, the play-within-a-play is offered as a comic interlude to display Shakespeare’s creativity.
One the other hand, the sub play helps the audiences understand some of the overall themes in the main play.
Pyramus and Thisbe face parental disapproval in the subplot just like the couple Lysander and Hermia do in the main plot.
Despite its dramatic premise, the craftsmen play the love story of Pyramus and Thisbe in such a comical way that parodies the melodramatic Athenian lovers and gives the play a very joyful and comical ending.
The role played by the darkness of night creates another similarity as it causes the romantic confusion in both plays.
Pyramus, in the dark of the night, mistakenly believes that Thisbe has been killed by the lion when he sees her bloody mantle; he, thus, commits suicide because of this misinterpretation.
It is explained while the lovers and Theseus and Hippolyta are mocking the ridiculous performance of the laborers, the audiences watching the lovers watch the craftsmen’s play are concurrently aware of the lovers’ own absurdity.
Moreover, the play-within-a-play of the craftsmen suggests the strict requirements and the limit of the theatre.