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A Midsummer Night's Dream (2016)

A modern re-telling of the classic fantasy drama by William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream holds a star-studded cast with euphoric effects and melodramatic storytelling.


David Kerr


Russell T. Davies (adaptation), William Shakespeare (based on the play by)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
John Hannah ... Theseus
Matt Lucas ... Bottom
Nonso Anozie ... Oberon
Eleanor Matsuura ... Hippolyta
Maxine Peake ... Titania
Richard Wilson ... Starveling
Bernard Cribbins ... Snout
Paapa Essiedu ... Demetrius
Colin McFarlane ... Egeus
Prisca Bakare Prisca Bakare ... Hermia
Elaine Paige ... Mistress Quince
Elliot Levey ... Philostrate
Varada Sethu ... Peaseblossom
Fisayo Akinade ... Flute
Matthew Tennyson ... Lysander


Tyrannical dictator Theseus brings his captive bride, Amazonian queen Hippolyta, to Athens for a forced, dynastic union whilst statesman Egeus sentences his daughter Hermia to death for spurning arranged marriage to Demetrius in favour of true love Lysander, with whom she escapes to the woods. Demetrius follows, along with Helena who is besotted with him. Also in the woods a group of amateur actors, including pompous Nick Bottom, are rehearsing a play to perform at the ducal wedding. All are unaware that the fairy rulers of the woods. Oberon and Titania are engaged in a feud with Oberon taking revenge on his wife, helped by the sprite Puck, which involves her falling in love with the first person she sees - namely Bottom wearing a donkey's head. The four lovers are similarly bewitched by the charm and much confusion results before order is restored and the play goes ahead, with the fairies ensuring happy endings - for those who deserve it. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Did You Know?


The fairytale forest was filmed in Puzzlewood (Dr Who, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). See more »


Version of El somni d'una nit d'estiu (1984) See more »

User Reviews

Modern Midsummer
20 November 2020 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Watched this production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', one of Shakespeare's best plays, with mixed to intrigued expectations. The cast is an immensely talented one, Matt Lucas is a bit take or leave for me but have liked Maxine Peake and John Hannah in a lot of things. Have enjoyed some of Russell T Davies' previous work. Was a bit worried though as to whether Davies would be a good fit for adapting Shakespeare and also while there are many great non-traditional performances around there are settings that sound wrong on paper and this was one of them.

Actually though, the setting worked surprisingly well and this 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' turned out to be very enjoyable. Was not actually expecting to enjoy it so much, as the setting (a specific one in the play) sounded so jarring and a lot on paper sounded wrong, and it is not for those that like their productions traditional and unabridged. Am not meaning this in a bad way, actually am mostly a traditionalist and the question of cuts is dependent on how many and how much they'll harm the drama, yet have always been open to new concepts. If one judges it on its own merits without prejudice they may be surprised.

Is this a perfect adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'? Not quite. The ending certainly is colourful and done with spirit, but for my tastes it was rather overblown too from trying to do more than it needed to and overlong.

Some of the sound quality could have been better too, which was quite underpowered and didn't always make the dialogue have enough clarity.

Which is a shame actually because the text in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is fantastic, it made me laugh hard frequently and brought a sincere lump to my throat at points too. There are cuts and playing around in this production, but not done in a way that affects the drama's cohesion or energy. Which is a relief because 'A Midsummer Night's Dream's' story is complicated at times. A story that is staged here with a lot of spirit and charm and despite the setting being different the spirit of the play remains the same surprisingly.

The modern and very political setting had a real danger of jarring too much or being heavy-handed, which was one of the main reservations people had when first hearing of it. Modern settings of very traditional plays do not always work due to distaste and having too many things that add nothing, but some have done due to it being intelligently staged, compelling and because the spirit of the work in question remains. The case with this 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', there is a 'Doctor Who' influence but not too much in a way that it becomes too much of that and not enough of Shakespeare. Moreover, the setting looks good, especially the costumes and make-up while the scenery has colour and grit. The special effects are not too 'Doctor Who'-ish and don't look cheap.

Have nothing to criticise the cast for, who all seem to be having fun. John Hannah is a menacing Thesus and one of the most interesting interpretations of the role seen by me in a long time and ever. Maxine Peake is a witty and enchanting Titania, while Lucas is in his hilarious element as Bottom. The four lovers have great comic timing and pathos, which makes it easy to get behind them and their plight. The character relationships are always interesting, especially between Thesus and Hippolyta, and there were a few insightful touches that caused controversy before airing but were a lot more tasteful than they seemed on paper. Including a particularly controversial kiss and a brilliant 'A Comedy of Errors' joke.

In conclusion, surprisingly very enjoyable. Everything that got people wary and cross before it aired actually came over far better than expected. 8/10

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Release Date:

30 May 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Sommernachtstraum See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Cymru Wales See more »
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