A boy dreams the play. Authority in Athens is shaky: Hermia rejects her father's choice, the Duke backs her father, and the Duchess sides with Hermia. Dad's choice, Demetrius, pursues ... See full summary »
After the overthrowing of Duke Senior by his tyrannical brother, Senior's daughter Rosalind disguises herself as a man and sets out to find her banished father while also counseling her clumsy suitor Orlando in the art of wooing.
A rich merchant, Antonio is depressed for no good reason, until his good friend Bassanio comes to tell him how he's in love with Portia. Portia's father has died and left a very strange ... See full summary »
Theseus has defeated Hippolyta in battle, and now claims her as his bride. But before the nuptials begin, a pair of young lovers flee into the forest to be married, pursued by a pair of ... See full summary »
Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is angry that his daughter Imogen has chosen a poor (but worthy) man for her husband. So he banishes Posthumus, who goes to fight for Rome. Imogen (dressed ... See full summary »
Exiled Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives.
Jonathan Miller originally planned on directing this episode himself, with fairies inspired by the work of Inigo Jones and Hieronymus Bosch, but he ultimately directed Timon of Athens (1981) instead, after original director Michael Bogdanov quit that production. See more »
a very disappointing production of a splendid play
Most of the productions in the BBC's Shakespeare series range from good to excellent, but there are a few duds. This production falls into the latter category. It is perhaps the worst, and certainly one of the worst, in the whole series.
The shortcomings arise chiefly from the inept directorial job by Elijah Moshinsky (though Nigel Davenport doesn't help with some painfully bad acting -- or, rather, expressionless reciting in lieu of acting -- in Act I). The four actors who portray the young lovers deliver excellent performances, but their efforts are undermined in Act III.ii by the director's disastrously ill-advised decision to have them speak quite a few of their lines simultaneously. Equally bizarre is the director's tendency to chop up and rearrange portions of the dialogue and to delete other portions. (Contrary to what is stated in two of the other reviews on this site, it is certainly not the case that all the dialogue is included in this production. A few of the deletions are well judged, though most of them are at best pointless.) If a director has so little respect for Shakespeare's art, why would he take on the task of directing this play at all?!
The performance by Phil Daniels as Puck is quite good, but it could have been much better if a competent director had reined Daniels in when he became too brisk and shrill in his articulation of his lines. Directorial incompetence is even more woefully evident in Act V. The mechanicals' play within a play is grimly unfunny. Having seen 60-70 productions of "Dream" during the past quarter of a century, I have never come upon a worse rendering of the final Act.
Helen Mirren is superb, but Peter McEnery is far too fierce in his portrayal of Oberon. He is clearly an adept actor, but he was let down by the director; a competent director would have reminded him that "Dream" is a comedy and that he ought to be striving for more humor and less ferocity.
This production does not altogether obscure the magic of Shakespeare's wonderful play, but it is overall a sore disappointment.
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