Welcome to the BBC’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Rather oddly, having introduced this rather unsubtle nod to Nazism, a kind of right-wing parody, Russell T Davies’ Athens turns out to be surprisingly multi-cultural, a multi-ethnic paradise in fact.
Oops. Didn't quite think it through, that one, did you Russell, luvvie? Not to worry, it's called imposing a BBC lefty-liberal 'narrative' on a classic. It sort of jars.
One can only assume therefore that this particular dictatorship is of the Liberal-left variety…
Talk about having your cake and eating it.
With Demetrius (or is it Lysander?) looking and acting like Harry Potter, glasses, fringe and all, and its insistence of touchscreen culture, this production could well have been made as part of the BBC’s GCSE for schools programming.
To be honest there’s nothing here we haven’t seen a thousand times before. It’s certainly lavish, not a penny has been spared. The costume and make-up bill alone must have cost a fortune. That henna and those wigs.
As might be expected, the FX are also rather snazzy, with a plentiful supply of fireflies and whatnot.
The mechanicals, led by Matt Lucas’ Bottom, and including stalwarts such as Bernard Cribbins and Richard Wilson, inevitably steal the show but then again they always do. Once the shock that Cribbins and Wilson are actually still alive is gotten over, it’s full speed ahead.
Less charismatic are the quartet of Athenian lovers, a less than subtle representation of modern Britain, the fascistic father of whom, is intent on preventing these multi-racial pairings. Boo!
Bizarre right-wing, yet racially tolerant multi-cultural dictatorship aside, this production does not bring that much to the Dream. Thus it’s hard not to escape the conclusion that this is merely an exercise in provocation, an attempt to propagate the BBC’s cherished multi-cultural narrative, an exercise in ‘normalisation.’
Just as their friends at the Labour party once upon a time cynically decided to ‘rub the nose of the right in the politics of diversity,’ it’s hard to escape the conclusion that this little foray was the BBC’s own contribution to that ‘narrative.’
Credit where credit is due. At least Duke Theseus does not have a German accent. Now that’s what I call restrain.
But alls well that ends well. The nasty right-wing dictator, Theseus (the same man who presides over this multi-racial paradise) suffers a heart attack. Remember that bit, Will? Me neither.
And with the demise of Theseus a lefty-liberal paradise is established where everybody holds hands and where everybody snogs everybody else. Hurrah!
The more this became Russell T Davies and the less William Shakespeare, the more it slid alarmingly into didacticism and the more nauseous it became.
Tellingly while nasty right-wing Theseus grasps for breath, the equally nasty (black) father of Hermia gets off scot-free. Canny old Egeus must have remembered to take his...er heart pills...presumably.
Screening this on prime-time was a rather interesting decision. Seriously, I would have thought 3.30pm would have been a more appropriate slot.
Best served with orangeade and wagon wheels.