WHAT I WATCHED

 

Reviewed by David Edwards

SHAKESPEARE RETOLD IS A SERIES MADE BY THE BBC WHICH AS ITS NAME SUGGESTS, REVAMPS SEVERAL OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS INTO THOROUGHLY MODERN STORIES.

These can be bought individually or in a boxed set of four.  They are available from ABC shops or through Amazon online.

The 4 plays retold are; Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming Of The Shrew, Macbeth, and Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I watched Much Ado About Nothing.  I was quite taken aback when Tom Jones singing ‘Love is like a candy on a stick’ accompanied the opening title sequence.  The story is as pacey as the Tom Jones song would suggest.  Whilst rewritten and with a totally modern setting there is room on occasion for words quoted from the Bard.

The story tells two intertwined love /hate affairs set in a television station.  Beatrice and Benedick are presenters on a successful current affairs program.  Although appearing to be great friends on-air they go out of their way to insult and undermine each other.  Hero the beautiful weather girl and daughter of the station owner is engaged to be married to the very good looking Claude who is the station’s sports presenter.   Don who has been rejected by Hero and is jealous of Claude will do anything to stop the wedding and he creates the underlying drama.

Of course as in the original Much Ado About Nothing, the tables turn and with much interference from the staff on the current affairs show, Beatrice and Benedick finally come to realize they are a match made in heaven.  On the other hand Hero decides that life is not all about love and marriage.

There is a lot of fun getting to this point, a fancy dress party, great acting and an excellent script make for 90 minutes of entertainment.

The second DVD in the series Shakespeare Retold is Taming of the Shrew it is a magnificent production with great acting and excellent direction.  This viewer was so enchanted by the film that it was watched again the next night!

The Taming of the Shrew is a romantic comedy.  Kate played by Shirley Henderson is the formidable up and coming politician and a very difficult woman.  Petruchio, played by Rufus Sewell is a penniless eccentric who has just inherited a title and an ancient property he simply can’t afford.

To help Kate’s political career her advisors want her to marry and a title would be perfect.  Petruchio on the other hand needs to marry into money and Kate is a very rich woman.   A mutual friend introduces them with warnings to both sides but his advice is ignored.  The engagement, marriage and the subsequent outcome is hilarious and we are taken on a roller coaster ride watching Petruhio tame his shrew.  It is a marriage made in heaven and the last few minutes are sublime.

Duration: 86 minutes