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A Midsummer Night's Dream (I) (1981)

TV Movie  -  Comedy  -  13 December 1981 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 199 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 2 critic

The adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors, and their interactions with fairy inhabitants come to light in a moonlit forest.

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Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream (TV Movie 1981)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Estelle Kohler ...
...
...
Geoffrey Lumsden ...
Pippa Guard ...
Nicky Henson ...
...
Cherith Mellor ...
...
Brian Glover ...
John Fowler ...
Don Estelle ...
Nat Jackley ...
Ray Mort ...
...
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The adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors, and their interactions with fairy inhabitants come to light in a moonlit forest.

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Comedy

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13 December 1981 (UK)  »

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The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream  »

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Trivia

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 »

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Version of Wood Love (1925) See more »

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Two Shining Moments
19 April 2006 | by (Backwoods Canada) – See all my reviews

There are two reasons why you might want to watch this version of Midsummer Night's Dream. One is Helen Mirren. She is lovely and perfect as Titania throughout and her delivery of the long monologue to Oberon in Act 2 Sc. 1 does not lose the viewer's attention for a moment. That is an awesome feat considering what a difficult passage it is.

The other shining moment occurs in Act 3 Sc. 2, starting about when Demetrius wakes up to find that he is in love with Helena. The ensuing lines are delivered over top of each other, as the lovers engage in a confused quarrel. The actors add to this by pushing each other, trying to get around or over or under to talk to someone other than the one that's talking to them. Great directing and perfect timing make this scene race by like I've never seen it before.

These two shining moments hardly make up for the rest of the performance which lacks sparkle. Some parts are sung (Puck's "Jack shall have Jill" speech) which is just incongruous. Perhaps the fact that Starveling sings his part as Moonshine is a bit of self-satire.

Which brings me to the rude mechanicals who are particularly lacklustre. Geoffrey Palmer is absolutely wasted here. "Pyramus and Thisbe" is absolutely boring. There are exactly two bits of comic business (Bottom steals food from the wedding table on the line "'Deceiving me' is Thisbe's cue" and Starveling as Moonshine tries to upstage Bottom by hanging the lantern in front of his face) and they aren't exactly hilarious. If it's not funny, it should at least be moving, but although Flute (a very feminine Flute) tries, the director has cut most of the wedding party's backchat and they seem to have little interest in what is going on on the stage. Small wonder really.

There's nothing about the sets and costumes, which suggest the English Civil War, to get us excited. The entire first scene is set in a library against a background of a ticking clock. What a great way to remind us how slowly the scene is moving!


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