The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0217 Tuesday, 27 March 2007
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.
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