Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All ye Kings and Queens, Knights and Nobles! I implore thee to lend thine ears to this most glorious news, straight from the halls of BBC One itself!
Whovians, perk your ears.
Russell T. Davies, the brilliant writer who returned the joy of Doctor Who to millions of fans, both old and new (and borrowed and blue), has now decided to reboot another classic – albeit a little bit older than the idea of a mad man in a blue box.
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
That’s right, you read that correctly. Rather than giving us nightmares of the dark, gas masks, and angel statues, Davies will now be dabbling in faeries, donkey-men, and walls named Snout.
Speaking of Snout, guess who’s playing him? Lemme give you Whovians a few hints: he played a companion in the 1966 Doctor Who film, he (sadly) knocked three times, and he’s the brilliant granddad of the illustrious Doctor Donna. That’s right, Bernard Cribbins will be reuniting with Davies, as he plays the hilarious ‘wall within a play’, within the play (I know it doesn’t seem it, but that sentence makes total sense).
It’s a straight up Whovian reunion, as the crew that worked with Davies to reboot Doctor Who is the same crew that’ll be working with him on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Basically, it’s guaranteed to be amazing.
Or, rather, worked with him, as the 90-minute reinvention of the hilarious, iconic Shakespearean play is already in post-production. It’ll be released on BBC One at the end of May (THIS MONTH!). As a matter of fact, pre-screening of this film was on May 6th in Cardiff (tickets disappeared ridiculously fast, I’m told). I can’t believe Davies snuck this up on us like this.
Wait… yeah, actually, I can.
Interesting note, there’s also a couple more things that Davies is sneaking in his reimagined version of this love-struck comedy – like a lesbian kiss between Titania, Queen of the Faeries, and the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta.
When questioned regarding this ‘controversial’ decision, Davies had this to say:
“My feeling about the end of the play is that Titania is submissive to Oberon and he gets away with his tricks. It’s very male-female, male-female, so I wanted to have a man with a man, a man who was dressed as a woman with a man, and a woman with a woman because it’s 2016, so that’s the world now … The plays reinvent themselves constantly, every generation does them differently, so if there’s a problem kiss me instead!”
I think I’ll pass. But setting aside the ‘modernization’ fuss that old Shakespearian fogies are trumpeting, the play is set in Greece. As a matter of fact, it revolves around the marriage of the Duke of Athens and the Queen of the Amazons. And Greece is a notoriously sexual and open culture. I mean, you’d be hard pressed to find a society more sexually open and accepting than ancient Greece.
Anyway, setting that aside, I’m super excited for this newest adaptation of what is definitely my second favorite Shakespeare play (I don’t care how cliché I sound, Hamlet is and always will be my favorite).
There is an all-star cast of characters. Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice, Silk, Theory of Everything) is starring as Titania, with her on-stage, tempestuous husband to be played by Nonso Anozie (Zoo, Cinderella, Game of Thrones). Their human-world counterparts, Theseus and Hippolyta, will be played by John Hannah (Spartacus, The Mummy, Atlantis) and Eleanor Matsuura (Alan Partridge, MI-5, Cuffs), respectively. Hiran Abeysekera (Lion in the Tent) will star as the ever-mischievous Puck, and Matt Lucas will be the hapless and hilarious Bottom (Alice in Wonderland, Little Britain, Pompidou).
But it’s not just a bunch of hard-hitting, ‘the most British Brits that ever Britished’ that will star in this fantastic film-adaptation. There’s a whole bunch of new talent that will be taking to the stage – erm, screen.
Outside of Kate Kennedy (Catastrophe) as Helena, the other three love-befuddled youths are all completely new faces. Paapa Essiedu is the ever-determined Demetrius, Prisca Bakare is the fourth-wheel Hermia, and Matthew Tennyson will play the besotted Lysander.
About his unique, hodge-podge cast, Davies had this to say: “This is such an exciting range of actors from stage and screen, from wild comedy to high drama, and some making their first ever appearance on camera. The Dream is coming to life like never before.”
And for Russell T. Davies, this truly is a dream. When the drama was first announced, Davies admitted that remaking A Midsummer Night’s Dream with BBC has been a dream of his for his entire adult life.
In his words: “…only the BBC can put on a play like this, for all the family, smack-bang in the heart of primetime. With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.”
With such a perfect combination of passion, talent, and skill, how can this be anything other than fantastic? I’ve got high hopes, and can’t wait for it to air.
Knowing my luck, it won’t release in the US for another six months. Oh well, there’s always iTunes…
UPDATE: Here’s the teaser trailer for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Russell T. Davies: