Name: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1996)
IMDb: link to IMDb
Genres: Comedy, romance. Country of origin: UK.
Cast: Starring Alex Jennings as Theseus and Oberon, Lindsey Duncan as Hippolyta and Titania, Barry Lynch as Philostrate and Puck, Emily Raymond as Helena, Monica Dolan as Hermia, Kevin Doyle as Demetrius, Daniel Evans as Lysander, Desmond Barrit as Nick Bottom.
Written and directed by: Adrian Noble. Original play: William Shakespeare.
The Three Acts:
The initial tableaux:
The conceit of this production was that a boy dreams the entire play. That takes a little getting used to. The set design is unexpected as well, with both classical and modern abstract elements.
The upperclass layer takes place in the court of Duke Theseus of classical Athens, who is about to marry Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. In Theseus' court are Egeus plus his daughter Hermia, as well as Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius.
The lower class layer is illustrated by Nick Bottom, who is the silliest of the craftsmen preparing a play within the play for the entertainment of the Duke and Duchess to be.
The last layer is that of the fairies in the wood surrounding the palace. This includes King Oberon, Queen Titania, the trickster Puck, and several lesser fairies.
The delineation of conflicts:
Egeus beseeches Theseus to rule that Hermia must marry Demetrius. Hermia is interested in Lysander, while Demetrius has left his former companion Helena, who still loves him. Oberon and Titania are squabbling as well.
During a single evening set mostly in the enchanted wood, the craftsmen prepare for the play. Hermia and Lysander attempt to run off in defiance of Egeus and the Duke. Helena follows Demetrius about. Oberon sets Puck upon all of them to have his amusement. Puck's love spells land on the four young adults, and odd pairings proceed. Puck has a special spell that he casts on Bottom, whose head is afflicted. Titania, also the target of Puck, swoons for Bottom, gross appearance and all.
Some of Puck's spells go awry; does he fix them? Toward the end, the play-within-a-play about Pyramus and Thisbe was delightfully executed.
One line summary: RSC does the Shakespeare play.
Cinematography: 8/10 A bit dark in some passages, but sufficiently lit for focus and contrast to be good.
Sound: 8/10 The actors are adequately miked.
Acting: 8/10 The actors spoke just slowly enough that each word could be understood. The dialog was delivered convincingly more often than not.
Set design: 6/10 The look of the film was regularly unexpected; who would have thought electric lights and motorcycles would be present? Greek upper class flowing garments meet early twentieth century suit and tie meet Chinese house coats. The leis were lovely, but also weird. Telling the entire story from the viewpoint of a dreaming modern boy had its uses. The free standing doors were cleverly employed.
Final Rating: Eight of ten.