Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream (David Kerr, 2016)

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

It's tempting to belittle the work of adapting Shakespeare- after all, the words are already written and can hardly be much improved upon- but this adaptation by Russell T. Davies, fitting into a tidy ninety minutes, reminds us that there's a real artistry to it. The words, although abridged, may be Shakespeare's, but this production is fresh and original. Top marks for the casting, too, letting the likes of Bernard Cribbins and Richard Wilson play minor roles and leaving the principals (Theseus, Titania and Bottom aside) to promising newcomers.

John Hannah's Theseus is dictator of a totalitarian state, festooned with fascistic imagery, and Hippolyta is his prisoner, the spoils of war, kept rather kinkily in a constant state of bondage. All this fits in rather well with Egeus' tyranny towards his daughter Helena, of course, and makes a nice constraint with the humanity of the "mechanicals", rehearsing in their pub with Matt Lucas being rather good as Bottom. I love everyone's hostility to Theseus on the pub telly.

The final act looks rather different with this slant on the play, with Theseus literally dying of laughter from the mechanicals' play and the end of tyranny. As a final touch we see that Hippolyta is in fact a fairy, and that Oberon and Titania have been plotting her rescue all this time. An inspired take on the play which looks magnificent throughout.

No comments:

Post a Comment