Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|A Midsummer Night's Dream|
Actors: Lindsay Duncan, Alex Jennings, Desmond Barrit, Finbar Lynch, Osheen Jones
Director: Adrian Noble
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Miramax Home Entertainment invites you to enjoy this playful interpretation of William Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy! A rich man's daughter has a difficult choice to make: do her duty and accept an arranged marriag... more »
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John C. (bookwheelboy)
Reviewed on 12/2/2007...
I think the version with Kevin Kline is better.
A lavish production of a timeless classic...
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is NOT the weak Hollywood version released earlier this year, but a tremendous production by the Royal Shakespeare Company a few years ago. I saw this production in England in 1995 and it is truly phenomenal. Alex Jennings is an actor of true power, forcefully taking on the dual roles of Theseus and Oberon (an interesting, though not uncommon approach). Desmond Barritt is absolutely hilarious leading the band of mechanicals. I would HIGHLY recommend this video to anyone, but particularly to those who have seen the play performed by other (particularly American) actors. You will truly have an appreciation for how truly gifted Royal Shakespeare Company actors are."
A Thoroughly Delightful Production
Joe Conlon | High School English teacher Warsaw, IN | 04/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1996 film adaptation of the 1994 RSC stage production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is marvelous. The acting is outstanding throughout the cast and the beauty of Shakespeare's language shines like a jewel. The costuming and setting are a rather non distinct present day time. The stage design is quite different than anything I've seen before - quite original and quite effective. The woods around Athens are represented by a blank stage with hanging light bulbs and various moveable doors about the set. Umbrellas are used in a number of unique and creative ways both to denote scene changes and as the bowers in fairyland. Also creatively used is a doll-house. Another unusual aspect of this production is the use of a young boy and his dream as a framing device for the play. The boy is also the "Changling Child" and he observes each of the scenes and takes part in the scene changes. Fairyland is often the most difficult effect for a modern director to conceive and Noble's concepts are both effective and delightful. The doubling of Theseus / Oberon and Hippolyta / Titania also works to tie the storylines together thematically. The staging of the Pyramus and Thisby play within a play during the fifth act is both touching and funny and again Noble's direction brings out Shakespeare's messages about the nature of love in a most perceptive manner. My only criticism of the casting (and it is a very minor one) involves the two female lovers. As Shakespeare wrote the play, Helena is a tall blonde. In this production Emily Raymond as Helena is a short-haired brunette only an inch or so taller than Monica Dolan's long-haired brunette Hermia. Both actresses' performance is superb, and the similarity of their looks does increase the confusion and emphasizes the theme of the lack of reason when considering love. Demetrius and Lysander are virtually interchangeable as Shakespeare wrote them. At 103 minutes, the play moves along briskly and some cutting of lines must have occurred but the cuts must be deftly handled because I didn't notice them. All of the famous passages are there as well as all the memorable quotes. I consider this production much superior to the more well known and highly publicized lavish Hollywood 1999 production directed by Michael Hoffman starring Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Stanley Tucci. I give this production five stars."
Ying and Yang of modern productions.
H. Lewis | Makó, Csongrád Hungary | 09/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
Right off I'll say this much: I like (Note the use of personal opinion here not global statement) this version much more than the nightmarishly Hollywoodized 2003 one with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer.
This version is a bit of extremes. On the one hand it's an excellent portrayal of the Bards work is some ways and in others directly contradicts what many masters of his works consider paramount at times.
Well, personally I like the colors and allusions in the motifs of light bulbs and umbrellas. The contradiction of a normal stage, set and settings in the human world and this, oh...quasi-minimalistic, surreal approach when in the woods worked, at least as far as this member of the audience is concerned. Of course there are the basic prerequisites that were matched (This IS the Royal Shakespeare company after all) of wonderful acting, yadda, yadda, yadda and so on, good casting, blah, blah, blah. For me though what makes or breaks these kinds of immortal works are the little things. The physical gestures, facial expressions etc. Oberon is perfect for example, the bare feet, the flowing coat hanging literally all over the young lovers who play their part perfectly by not acknowledging this rather large fellow actor breathing in their ear. Puck too works well. 'Proud Titania' certainly was amazonian enough; protrayed as a bit of a stick in the mud which went a far way to showing her greater, oh, let's say moral authority over her king; though the fae have no concept of morality, but I digress. The 'Human' characters were also quite fun getting yanked this way and that and playing the roles well. Though, as should be evidenced by this review, Oberon and Puck were my personal highlights.
As in The Good, it's the little things. In this case the sex scene with Bottom and Titiana. Um... As I've also said this IS The Royal Shakespeare Company so I have to wonder what industrial accident happened near their HQ to induce a dementia to the point where someone thought a sex scene was a good idea? One of the major charming points regarding Bottom is the idea that he is an innocent. A prime point of this comedy is how Titiana, who is a Fae Lord for God's sake, one of the most beautiful and enticingly sensual creatures in the history of time, is throwing herself at this mortal and he doesn't even notice being much more charmed, in his childlike manner, by Mustardseed and its kin. The actor who portrays Bottom is a good physical actor, he's just not a good physical actor for Bottom.
So, as I said, this is a creature of extremes in productions of Midsummer Night Dreams. Get it for Oberon and Puck, pay no attention to the kiss, it's a gesture of servile devotion- only a fool associates mortal definitions to fae actions. Avoid it for The Bottom of Bottom and Titian portrayals. Personally, I find Oberon and the young lovers actions and presentation to be of greater value than the detriments caused by the flawed writing and directing that birthed the Titania and Bottom fiasco- but that's not my call to make globally.
These things did little to harm or add to the play. They came across as 'Charming' or 'Odd' but did not much add pro or con to any sum total of mental assessment as far as I'm concerned. These would be things like- The Umbrellas, the light bulbs, the feathered hair, the running through doors, the portrayal of the dream as a dream, maybe, and the boy who pops up now and again who I like to think of as 'The Witness'. Really the only thing that's worth commenting on regarding The Witness is how this young actor is apparently also in the Anthony Hopkins version of Titus, directed by Julie Taymore where he has has much the same role until the last third or so. As I said, a bit odd.
I remain, as always,