A Midsummer Night's Dream (2019)
June 28, 2020 11:30 AM - Subscribe

A film of an adaptation of the Shakespeare play, performed at the Bridge Theatre in London, available via the National Theatre in the UK's NT At Home. Starring Gwendoline Christie, Oliver Chris, David Moorst, and Hammed Animashaun. Available to watch for free via YouTube till 7pm UK time on Thursday 2 July. (More about the production, including a full cast list.)

I had never seen Midsummer Night's Dream before and so I did not realize until I looked at the YouTube comments that in this production Titania speaks Oberon's lines and vice versa!
posted by brainwane (7 comments total)
Yeah, I was just going to say...we saw this just the other night, and while I was originally skeptical of the Oberon/Titania switch, it wound up working better than I had any idea it would. It was a lot of fun to watch, especially the Rude Mechanicals and the little ad-libs here and there. (I lost it at Theseus's "Oh, it's a hat!" during the Pyramus and Thisbe play.)

It was a little weird, though, especially at first, as Mrs. Example and I played Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania just last year. It was so odd seeing the lines come out of the opposite actor's mouths.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:55 AM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mr. Bad Example, thanks for the personal experience! It's funny how I think any future production will now seem weird to me if Oberon's character speaks what were originally Oberon's lines, etc.

Some questions:

So, at the end, Demetrius just never gets un-hypnotized, and will remain in love with Helena for the rest of his life?

What's the deal with the "Indian boy"? Is this a character who is literally from India, or is this some kind of phrasing I am unfamiliar with? (My parents are from India so this piqued my interest.)
posted by brainwane at 12:53 PM on June 28, 2020

Honestly, I'm not sure what the deal with the Indian boy is, and a quick check of the usual sources I look at for this sort of thing shows a lot of scholarly arguing about the significance of his origin. My personal opinion is that Shakespeare just wanted somewhere that would seem exotic to an English audience and would fit nicely into a pentameter line. (I'm only expert-ish in Shakespeare, though, so take that with a large grain of salt.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:11 PM on June 28, 2020

Oh, and yeah...Demetrius never gets un-charmed. My take on that is that Oberon both finds the symmetry of two happy couples pleasing and is also kind of a dick who wants the four humans to stop tearing around his forest and making a huge amount of noise.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2020

It’s immersive!
posted by rewil at 10:58 PM on June 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

I loved this! It's one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, and reliably funny without too much tweaking. I was initially confused by the switching of Oberon and Titania's lines, but it worked surprisingly well, although at one point it did seem that Oberon wanted the Indian boy because he was the father.

Incidentally, if anyone wants to see a completely different production of the same play and has access to BBC iPlayer, they currently have the Globe's Indian=themed production from 2016, as well as The Tempest (also from the Globe) and RSC productions of Othello and The Merchant of Venice. The Globe's Dream has the usual allocation of Oberon and Titania's lines (although Helena is changed to Helenus), and the Indian boy appears, as a rather adorable puppet. The mechanicals are Globe backstage staff, including "Nick Bottom, health and safety officer".
posted by Fuchsoid at 11:17 PM on June 30, 2020

.....ehh, I'm kind of cold on the 2016 Globe one. That was under Emma Rice's tenure, and this is going to sound like such a theatre-snob thing to say, but...I don't think she ever really got the Globe. Stage lighting, amplified sound, prerecorded music...ugh.

I'm not saying you need to fossilize every production into some sort of idealized "pure" 16th/17th-century artistic form, but if you've got a replica of an Elizabethan theater, work with it instead of fighting it.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:11 AM on July 1, 2020

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