This time I really mean it! I got into the cutesy title with my last post and then as I started writing about that BBC Television Shakespeare version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I realized the title was a bit more enthusiastic than I really felt. But now I mean it! The 2005 BBC’s Shakespeare Retold version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is definitely boisterous, beautiful, and extremely charming. I loved it!
This is a completely modern, up-to-date version using modern English (with a bit of an accent). I loved everything about it. The story is set in a modern “holiday park”… a beautiful resort with nice cabins in the woods. I’d like to vacation there! The actors are all really good. The writing is excellent. The tone is just right. I can’t say enough about this version.
The music is great—modern and right on the money. They play “Strangers in the Night” during all the crazy goings-on in the forest, “Love Potion Number 9” while Puck is applying the love potion. All the music is really good.
I love the fairies. Puck (played by Dean Lennox Kelly) is a scruffy grunge rocker type. He’s very low-key and he breaks the fourth wall all the time, talking directly to the camera to clue us in. It works very well for me. The Oberon/Titania relationship (played by Lennie James and Sharon Small) is good. Oberon’s trick on Titania is well done, and when he sees the result, he seems genuinely remorseful and makes it right. And the scene of Titania’s love nest with Bottom (Johnny Vegas) is really, really funny.
The story follows Shakespeare very closely. The love quadrangle between Hermia, Zander, James Demetrius and Helena is essentially Shakespearean. The main plot difference for me is with the Hippolyta/Theseus characters (Polly and Theo—Hermia’s parents in this version, played by Bill Paterson and Imelda Staunton). I thought their midlife relationship reevaluation was interesting. Also, Theo has conversations with Oberon who appears to him periodically to give him love advice, and apparently has done so in the past. I liked this addition to the story. And Oberon’s final advice to Theo seems a good antidote to the love-craziness going on all around in the woods: “Just enjoy what you’ve got, Theo. Just enjoy what you’ve got.”
This one’s a winner. It would be an excellent and very accessible intro to the story for high schoolers. It’s available on Netflix, both streaming and on DVD. Get it!
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