UK Release Date: 12th February 2018
Runtime: 80 minutes
Director: Shakirah Bourne
Writer: Shakirah Bourne
Starring: Adrian Green, Susannah Harker, Lorna Gayle, Keshia Pope, Jherad Alleyne, Sam Gillett, Marina Bye, Patrick Michael Foster, Aden Gillett
Synopsis: A reimagined take on the iconic Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in the Caribbean during a period of carnivalesque festivities.
With the possible exceptions of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth, the crown for the most frequently adapted Shakespeare play has to go to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Its blend of romance and supernatural comedy makes it palatable to just about everybody. Some dude with the head of a donkey is funny, whether you’re into Elizabethan literature or not. A Caribbean Dream transports the action to a more exotic locale and packs its cast with people of colour in a progressive, forward-thinking take on the material.
The central marriage between Theseus and Hippolyta is now interracial, as are all of the major relationships in the movie. Other than the increased diversity of the cast, the story cleaves pretty tightly to the Shakespearean tale, playing the hits of its narrative, from people being turned into animals to the final question of whether there’s any sort of reality in what the audience has witnessed.
On a narrative level, A Caribbean Dream struggles to distill the essence of Shakespeare’s text into a sub-90-minute running time. It’s a muddled take on the story which isn’t a problem for those who are familiar with the original play, but could present issues for those experiencing the tale for the first time. The saving grace, though, is the visual fizz and colour provided by the new setting, which expands into the vibrant, fantastical world of the woodland fairies who move the story along.
The performances are mostly strong, with Lorna Gayle a riotous, ever-watchable comic highlight as a gender-flipped Bottom and Patrick Michael Foster playing Puck with a gleeful mischief that can only be described as, well, puckish. Unfortunately, it’s Marina Bye who sticks out for all of the wrong reasons, with a wooden and uncertain portrayal of Hermia.
A Caribbean Dream is certainly a flawed take on a memorable and influential comedy tale. However, writer-director Shakirah Bourne has brought a considerable amount of playful silliness to the story, helped by a very different setting and some committed performances. It doesn’t all hold together perfectly, but Shakespeare fans will find plenty to enjoy in this revisionist take on the Bard.
Pop or Poop?
There’s not much that’s narratively new in A Caribbean Dream, but it’s intriguing to see such a classic tale being told through the prism of people of colour. Lorna Gayle’s performance is worth the price of a DVD alone and every Machiavellian grin on the face of Patrick Michael Foster is a devilish joy.
It’s just a shame that everything feels a little slight, particularly given the visual potential afforded by this exotic, balmy relocation of the story.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.