DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

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Contributors

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MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED: "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM"
January 30, 2015  | By David Bianculli

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

 

SEASON PREMIERE: This marvelous arts documentary series returns for a second season, serving up double doses of installments devoted to a celebration and analysis of the plays of William Shakespeare. For this Season 2 opener, examining A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the host and guide is Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, whose first acting job was in a 1986 stage production of Dream. This hour includes glimpses of the first film version (from 1909, a silent Shakespeare!), and of the infamous 1935 Hollywood version (James Cagney as Bottom! Mickey Rooney as Puck!). But there’s not nearly enough of the superb version, featuring Helen Mirren as a luminous Titania (pictured), made in 1981 for the BBC-PBS co-production of The Shakespeare Plays – and no glimpse of Diana Rigg in director Peter Hall’s 1968 movie version. But what is here is delightful, and valuable: historical perspective, poetic insights, and samples from recent stage productions by Julie Taymor in the U.S. and the Globe Theatre in London.  A great installment of a great series, and a worthy companion to the work of our greatest playwright. Check local listings.

 
 
 
 
 
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