The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2128  Monday, 20 November 2000.

From:           Joe Conlon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 18 Nov 2000 10:13:13 -0500
Subject: 11.2022 Midsummer Video
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2022 Midsummer Video

I posted the following review of what I believe is the best video
available of MSND on the Amazon.com website.  I have taught an elective
Shakespeare course at Warsaw Community High School in Warsaw, Indiana
for the last 12 years, and this is the video I have recently changed to
after several years of using the 1982 Joseph Papp production.

Joe Conlon
Warsaw, IN

A Thoroughly Delightful Production  April 22, 2000

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.

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