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The second televised production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Helen Mirren in the cast, although this time in a different role (Titania). In the 1968 production, which was released to movie theatres in Europe, but premiered in the U.S. on CBS-TV, Ms. Mirren played Hermia. See more »
Let me say first of all that this is easily my favourite of all Shakespeare's plays. The way that it interweaves the fantastical and the real is exceptional. But this production did not do it the credit that it deserves.
There were a lot of good things here. All Shakespearean productions seem to have at least one actor who doesn't seem at home with the language. It looked for a while as if this one would get away from that. Unfortunately, Puck's entrance kind of spoiled this for me, and as he is a major player it was doubly disappointing. He was totally miscast, and some of his better known lines were almost painful.
Having Titania's bed chamber looking like a Rubens painting was a great touch - to say nothing of Titania herself, who, played by Helen Mirren, was outstanding. Making her attendants so numerous and so young was also excellent - in theory. But again, none of them (in their, admittedly few, speaking parts) seemed in any way comfortable with the language. I realise that Shakespeare can't be easy for 10-year-olds, but surely they could have done a little better.
The sets were also a disappointment, the forests clearly being indoors and the puddles therein being miraculously free of mud. I don't know what would have been wrong with just shooting that part outdoors.
It must be a tough production to get right. There were certainly some good things there, but some unnecessarily bad ones as well. I enjoyed it, but the Hollywood version from 1999 is better, and probably easier to source.
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