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4.1 out of 5 stars13
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 7 July 2009
I might be a bit biased here as it was this BBC-production that, when shown on German television about twenty years ago, brought me to be a Shakespeare devotee, but I still think that it is absolutely the best adaption of the Dream so far- Helen Mirren and Peter Mc Enery are great as Titania and Oberon and as for Robert Lindsay, he was a marvellous Lysander, way out of his depth when lost in the woods. It may not have the Tuscan views of the big Hollywood version with Rupert Everett, but for sheer histrionic brilliance, I`d watch it over and over again!
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on 7 May 2011
I hope that everybody associated with this production is proud of it, and of their part in it. I honestly think that given the constraints of budget and time (not to mention the large scope of the play itself), it is a triumph.

Producer Jonathan Miller and director Elijah Moshinsk deserve great credit for a piece which looks more sumptious than Miller's "King Lear" (as it needs to) but which is every bit as intelligently directed. In terms of lighting, sets and costumes, much has been taken from seventeenth century painting and masques. The night-time forest is a delight, as are the very funny scenes between the enchanted and misled lovers. The production boasts a uniformly strong cast which includes Helen Mirren (Titania), Robert Lindsay (Lysander), Nicky Henson (Demetrius), Phil Daniels (Puck), Peter McKenery (Oberon), Nigel Davenport (Theseus), Brian Glover (Bottom), Geoffrey Palmer, Don Estelle, Pippa Guard, etc.

In short, this is a first-rate production of what has to be one of Shakespeare's greatest and most magisterial of plays.

Beyond the "Subtitles" and "Scene Selection" options, the DVD has no extras.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 August 2011
I have seen many productions of "The Dream" in the theatre and cinema but, without doubt, this is the best; although it does not have the excitement and dangers of live performances, it is an excellent, full production with some splendid actors well-versed in Shakespeare.

Filmed in the studio but retaining the feel of the stage (but a BBC stage!), its limited acting areas concentrate attention on the language; the low-lighting quality and simple sets achieve the same. Unlike films with a vast canvas, often a distraction, this never loses its focus from the dimly-lit appearance of Puck in the forest to his solo appearance at the end:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.

The only feature I think unkindly of are Bottom's ears, most unlike the objects they are meant to represent. However, it's such a small fault, not worth an earful! One element of filmed/televised Shakespeare which is often poor is the one element which should be outstanding - the sound quality and the diction. On this DVD, both are excellent.

Robert Lindsay makes a wonderful bemused Lysander, Cherith Mellor as Helena is not "as ugly as a bear" but captures the feelings well and Geoffrey Palmer's patient Quince is so diplomatic attempting to organise the motley crew headed by Brian Glover's exasperatingly enthusiastic Bottom. There are too many wonderful performances to mention.

Suffice to say, buy it and watch it.
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on 10 July 2014
I had not previously seen or heard Britten's Midsummer night's dream, but I am glad I first made its acquaintance through this production, rather than some of the alternatives that update the setting into something quite implausible.
This is a straight performance in period dress, well acted and sung, and well directed by Peter Hall (staging) and Bernard Haitink (music) for Glyndebourne. Given its age (it dates from 1981) both picture and sound are very good. It is almost invidious to single out an individual from such an overall excellent cast, but James Bowman stands out as Oberon, while the boy playing Puck (not a singing role) is also excellent.
Buy this recording - you won't be disappointed.
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on 22 September 2010
This was not at all what I expected from Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare's tale of fairies meddling in the lives of mortals is usually light and frothy, but this version had a dark, sinister edge to it. Oberon, King of the fairy-folk, reminded me more of Heathcliff than anyone - primaeval and dangerous, not at all the kind of character you would want to meet in the woods on a dark night. Puck was unpleasant, with a hint of Gollum about him and Helen Mirren's Fairy Queen, though beautiful, was stately and aloof. I wouldn't imagine she spends much time nursing sick puppies or cooing over babies. The lesser fairies were like grubby orphans, not cute or pretty, but very real and believable as forest-dwellers from a mythical world.

The mortals were presented more conventionally, although it was funny watching Robert Lindsay (Ben from 'My Family') with horrible long hair playing Lysander. 'Bottom' and his amateur acting troupe were played very naturally and were not too blatantly comical or slapstick. The overall look and feel was very realistic, rugged even, and not at all ethereal or dream-like. I liked the style of this production; it gave the play depth and made it more interesting

I suspect that there have been substantial cuts in other versions I've seen, because this one seemed to have an awful lot of Shakespearean dialogue and speeches. I didn't mind, but if you don't really want a heavy dose of Shakespeare you could start with a more modern, lighter version such as William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream [DVD] [1999] and work your way up.
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on 29 July 2013
Interesting production with very fine singing and good way of getting to know it before seeing it live at Bristol Univ this year
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on 8 October 2014
Very satisfied
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on 5 August 2015
Magical!
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on 6 May 2016
Great buy, exactly as described. Arrived on time
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on 4 January 2010
An interesting but now dated production, great for fans of Helen Mirren et al, but not the best production I have seen
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