Shakespeare's intertwined love polygons begin to get complicated from the start--Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny.Written by
To begin with, I confess that in any production of MSND I see I'm focusing almost entirely on the Rude Mechanicals (here, Kevin Kline and co.) For the most part, I thought they were great. But I, like many others, was put off by the focus on Nick Bottom. This is not supposed to be a three-dimensional character, let alone a sympathetic one. He was designed to be a joke, even his name (Bottom. Ass. Donkey, get it?) Where it went right was showing just how out of their league the poor slobs were. From the cutaway to the "Green Room" where these few men in street clothes are surrounded by acrobats, fire-eaters, etc, to the huge Opera house audience.
Then the play itself was masterfully executed. I was a little put off by Peter Quince shouting out the "right" lines from offstage, (that's not in the play), but it did help make clear some jokes. I loved how they made the Moon's part improved. Most of all, I loved what they did with "Thisbe" at the end! I've never seen it done that way before and if you asked me, I would have said it wouldn't work. But it was great! My only problem was that they should have then cut the Duke's derisive line "Wall and Lion are left to bury the dead." It detracted. As for the rest, nothing that hasn't been said already. Calista Flockhart was appropriate, Stanley Tucci was amusing, Michelle Pfeiffer delivered her lines with feeling, yet the feeling seemed disconnected from what she was saying. The bicycle theme lost me, and I'd like to see at least one production of MSND actually set in ancient Athens. Overall a good film. You should see it, but maybe wait till it's the second-run theaters.
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