As part of Edward Nickelson's quest to put all of Shakespeare in LOLspeak, I've been poring over the lolified text of one of my favorite plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Going over each line of the play and wondering whether "gentleman" should be changed to "gentlecat" or "gentlekitteh" has been a fun way to revisit this piece, which has been revisited by others many, many times before.
In 1999, the Pfeiffer/Kline/Everett/Tucci/that lawyer from TV version of A Midsummer Night's Dream came out. I saw it in the theater with my little sister and my grandma. It was a matinee, so the audience was mostly old people. Behind me was an elderly woman on an oxygen tank who sounded seconds away from hyperventilation whenever half-naked Rupert Everett, as Oberon, came on. At the time it was weird, but hey, get it, gurl!
I loved the movie. I had loved the play since seeing it performed outdoors somewhere years earlier, and I enjoyed how this film captured that lush outdoorsyness that A Midsummer Night's Dream offers (and I think this is part of why this play is such a Shakespeare in the Park favorite). A few years ago, though, I went on an adaptation spree and revisited this take. Mostly I was annoyed at how much of the text was cut, which I hadn't noticed before (or at least not before I became that annoying, "OMG they cut those lines" person). So...sure, it's a bit shortened and stiff, but it's still gorgeous to look at and there are apt performances by Kline, Tucci, Everett, and Pfeiffer. And that lady on the oxygen was right: Everett's looking good.
Other adaptions I've encountered. Some recommended, some not:
Most Wow That Was The 60s I Guess: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
Judi Dench is mostly naked in blue body paint. Blonde Helen Mirren is Hermia and very brunette Diana Riggs is Helena. Puck is moments away from an OD.
Most Not Quite Baby Bear Levels of Just Right But Still A Good Time: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981)
Puck's still tripping, but he has more chemistry with Oberon this time, even when (especially when?) Oberon is drowning him in what appears to be a shallowly buried kiddie pool. Helen Mirren, graduating from the Hermia role, makes a stately but joyful Titania. The fairies in Titania's train are all kids. Are they good actors? Nope, but they're cute, and you can totally imagine Titania and Bottom adopting them all and making it work Brangelina style.
Most Oh Look Woody Allen Is Having Sex With Hot Women Again: A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
So this isn't truly an adaptation, but it's a movie that's loosely inspired by the play, and it manages to capture the original's fun, sexy, breezy mood. I bring this up because of the next entry.
Most No Amount of Ecstasy on Earth Could Make This Less Horrific: A Midsummer Night's Rave
Have you ever been like, "Hey, we should make the ultimate rave movie" but also "Hey, what if we like made a Shakespeare movie but like modern...do you think anyone's done that?" And then you kinda start a rave-themed Midsummer Night's Dream (which actually makes sense!), except that you get writer's block and mostly recycle the rave-based screenplay you wrote in middle school and recently found under your childhood bed and end up just tossing a few of the play's names and lines in randomly? Yeah.
Demetrius falling for Helena while druggedly jumping around to techno could have been awesome. Could have.