Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
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All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1960: George Schaefer

1979: Derek Jarman

1980: John Gorrie

1982: Herb Roland

1983: William Woodman

2011: Julie Taymor

2012: Des McAnuff

2013: Jeremy Herrin


Adaptations

1956: Forbidden Planet

1982: Tempest

1998: The Tempest

1991: Prospero’s Books

1992: Stanislav Sokolov, Dave Edwards (animated)


Educational

2013: Shakespeare Uncovered (Season 1, Ep. 4)


The Tempest
1982: Herb Roland

This is a filmed version of the 1982 production at the Canadian Stratford Festival, and it has many of the advantages and disadvantages of a staged production. While the synergy of characters and audience are objectively observed by the camera (which occasionally is turned explicitly on the audience), one cannot properly engage in it from this side of the screen. Accordingly it alienates the viewer about as much as it pulls him or her into the interaction.

The production is, however, fairly complete, and the roles are all played competently, though with a stage-actor’s sense of space and diction. Things that might have been rendered reflective on screen with overdubbed monologues or the like (thus closing some of the gap left by the failure of intimacy implicit in film) cannot be so handled. For all that, Len Cariou, a veteran character actor on American television and on stage, turns in a solid performance as Prospero, though it seldom achieves the brilliance of some others. Prospero’s “Our revels now are ended” speech is delivered as if in extremity of anguish, and the effect is rather peculiar. Miranda is transparently charming and supremely naive; Caliban (covered with all manner of bumps and knobs) is definitely in command of the role, and plays it with an athletic gusto, doing somersaults, and delivering lines in a crouch or on all fours. Ariel is athletic and even more oddly attired with glittery bits that probably looked better on stage than they do on film; he plays the role overtly for its comic value, and some of the best moments in the play are in his interaction with Prospero. As a character on its own, the audience is lively, and shows an appreciation of the various comical bits of the dialogue. Some audiences may find the thoroughly North American diction a little odd, but ultimately that issue falls away. The production is played more or less without sets and with a minimum of props, as one might expect in such a situation, but it does make good use of occasional props for stunning effects. A handful of production-number set pieces are worth particular note — especially Juno’s appearance at the nuptials Miranda and Ferdinand seems modeled on Mozart’s Queen of the Night. Some may also be amused to see that Loreena McKennitt, more popular in the musical world than in drama, sings the part of Iris.

This production has been made available on DVD as part of one of the CBC “Shakespeare Collection” or “Stratford Collection” boxed sets; it is only intermittently in print, however, and is fairly hard to secure. One might try a library. The technical aspects of the production can only be called poor: the colors are washed out; the image is blurry; at least in my copy (and I presume others) there is a band of static down the right side of the picture, suggesting a quick and mechanical transfer from videotape without any post-transfer cleanup. Nevertheless, it’s worth seeing if one wants a fairly straightforward, orthodox presentation of the play with occasional bursts of remarkable beauty.

2 hrs., 16 min.


Adrian: Peter Waisberg

Alonso: Richard Curnock

Antonio: Colin Fox

Ariel: Ian Deakin

Boatswain: Shaun Austin-Olsen

Caliban: Miles Potter

Ceres: Loreena McKennitt

Ferdinand: Jim Mezon

Gonzalo: Lewis Gordon

Iris: Irene Neufeld

Juno: Anita Noel-Antscherl

Master: Deryck Hazel

Miranda: Sharry Flett

Prospero: Len Cariou

Sebastian: Richard Monette

Stephano: Nicholas Pennell

Trinculo: John Jarvis