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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: March ::
Shakespeare and TV Jane Austen
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0217  Tuesday, 27 March 2007

From: 		Susanne Greenhalgh <
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Date: 		Saturday, 24 Mar 2007 11:21:28 -0000
Subject: 	Shakespeare and TV Jane Austen

The ITV season of single drama adaptations of Jane Austen kicked off 
last Sunday with a much truncated version of 'Mansfield Park', starring 
Billie Piper as Fanny Price (adapt. Maggie Wadey, producer Suzan 
Harrison, director Iain B. MacDonald, Company Pictures, ITV 18 March 2007).

The scene in which Henry Crawford 'forces' Fanny to attend to his 
brilliant but chameleon-like readings of different characters from 
'Henry VIII' is replaced by his delivery of Lorenzo's lines to Jessica 
in 'The Merchant of Venice', clearly addressed to Fanny: 'The moon 
shines bright. In such a night as this/ When the sweet wind did gently 
kiss the trees/ And they did make no noise - in such a night/Troilus, 
methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,/And sighed his soul toward the 
Grecian tents/Where Cressid lay that night' (5.1.1-6). Lady Bertram 
(Jemma Redgrave) comments that his reading was like 'being at a 
play',and Sir Thomas (Douglas Hodge) that 'The play must be a favourite 
of yours'. Crawford says that it will be now but 'to tell the truth I 
like an audience' at which Fanny laughs. A comment from Mary Crawford 
(Hayley Atwell) makes it clear that this marks Fanny's grasp of 
Crawford's true nature.

Instead of the original reference to the way in which Shakespeare 
becomes part of an Englishman's 'constitution' by a form of natural 
osmosis Crawford is made to say 'I've often resolved to make good my 
neglect of Shakespeare but it would take regular study and I am not 
constant in my habits'. Fanny comments that she thinks it a pity that he 
does not always know himself as well as he did at that moment. Their 
private conversation then develops into one about his constancy, and 
desire to improve her opinion of him.

'Northanger Abbey' and 'Persuasion' (scripted by Andrew Davies) are to 
follow) and all will be available on DVD later in the Spring.

Susanne Greenhalgh

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