This 'Scope version of 'Bottom's Story' is placed in late 19th century Tuscany, with the tone set, most successfully, by Pfeiffer's recumbent, eroticised and shimmering Titania. Puck's mischief - pairing Friel's sweet petulant Hermia with Bale's dull Demetrius, and Flockhart's consternated Helena with West's posturing Lysander - brings an oh-so-sweet awakening, as the morning finds the lovers tumbled naked on the dewy sunlit grass. Such pleasurable moments make us forgive writer/director Hoffman his inability to reconcile the varied performances and readings of the international cast. More problematic are the provocative 'anachronisms': having characters, costumed out of pre-Raphaelite paintings, deport themselves on bicycles and listen to early gramophones, for instance, is unproductively Brechtian. Also irksome and claustrophobic is the design of the magic wood, all cardboard scenery and creaky contraptions. What shouldn't work, yet does, is the use of snippets of opera to add crescendos to the action: this Dream is middlebrow and unashamed of it. Injecting the film with fun and pathos, Kline makes a superb Bottom; it's his play and he acts it to the hilt.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Cast and crew