A Midsummer Night's Dream (VHS)
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Renowned theatrical director Adrian Noble directed the Royal Shakespeare Company's mid-'90s stage production and helmed this film adaptation of that version. Its 1999 video release was apparently to coincide with Michael Hoffman's higher-profile feature of the same year. The setting is very theatrical in nature, with nearly all of the scenes taking place on a theater stage. The story is also bookmarked by a child (Osheen Jones), who is apparently dreaming all of the events, and also appears frequently in most of the scenes. Hyppolyta/Titania (Lindsey Duncan) and Theseus/Oberon (Alex Jennings) drive the plot with their romantic bickering, which stems from the romantic foursome of Demetrius (Kevin Doyle), Hermia (Monica Dolan), Lysander (Daniel Evans), and Helena (Emily Raymond). Lysander and Hermia are in love, but Hermia is promised to Demetrius by Hermia's father, Egeus. Helena, who is Hermia's best friend, is in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius loathes her. As one would expect, Lysander and Demetrius are very hostile towards one another. Hyppolyta feels strongly for Hermia and Lysander' case and becomes angry with Theseus when he takes Egeus' part in the predicament. Lysander and Hermia flee, Demetrius pursues, and is, in turn, pursued by Helena. The foursome then encounter the fairy kingdom, led by Oberon and Titania. Oberon orders his lackey, Puck (Barry Lynch), to cast a spell on Titania as a form of retribution for an argument the royal pair are currently having. Oberon also commands Puck to place the same spell on Demetrius, whom he has witnessed scorning Helena. However, due to miscommunication, Puck enchants Lysander instead. The scene becomes hectic, with enchantments and miscommunication abounding. At one point, Helena becomes the focus of love from both Demetrius and Lysander, while Hermia assumes the scorned woman role. Meanwhile, Titania has been forced to become infatuated with a mortal named Bottom (Desmond Barrit), whom Puck has enchanted with an ass head. By movie's end, however, all is straightened out. The fairy rulers reconcile and the mortal couples are united in marriage. At the wedding party, Theseus and his minions are entertained by the Pyramus and Thisbe play as performed by the rude mechanicals headed by Bottom. The Pyramus and Thisbe play-within-a-play is traditionally one of the highlights of the piece, but seems to lack some focus in this treatment. As films go, this is standard fare, technically speaking. In relation to other filmed versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, however, few are more enjoyable. ~ Ryan Shriver, Rovi