As it’s settling into the winter of our discontent, there could be no better time for a holiday to Barbados. For those of us who don’t have the money lying around to take a spontaneous trip to the Caribbean, we must rely on faint delights where we can find them, like A Caribbean Dream. As the title somewhat suggests, what we’re given is a breezy, 82 minute adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream but the action relocated from Greece to modern day Barbados.
It’s a fascinating choice really for such a brief, slight adaptation as Dream is essentially three films, it is the machinations of the king and queen of Fairies Oberon and Titania, it is love square of the noble lords and ladies & it is the tale of the rude mechanicals trying to put together their performance (in this version, in order to win a talent contest with a first prize of $15,000). Yet despite this, it manages to deftly handle the three plots giving them practically equal footing with the mechanicals given enough time to provide pure comedic relief without overplaying their hand. It also helps that by condensing the plot down, it had managed to make it a leaner, more contemporary beast in its timings without sacrificing time for character. The directorial style is predominantly without flourish but with landscapes such as these, you don’t need much more than the camera to be pointed in the right direction. What works well is that it does feel like a Shakespeare written and directed for film, not for the stage but translated to screen as it zips around the locales with energy and ease.
That said, while some shonky effects work aside, the comedic and fantastical plotlines work well, the romantic plot feels underplayed and suffers from a lack of chemistry with the romantic pairings and a lack of full connection to the words around them. Even though the central set-piece revolves around the magical intervention within this storyline, it fails to make the romantic stories matter as much as the more colourful magic around it. Overall the actual performances do vary in quality as for every Lorna Gale delivering a scene-stealing Bottom, you have a Patrick Michael Foster who hams up his Puck delivering near a magical nor a playful, impish quality. Andre Woodvine’s soundtrack varies between feeling vibrant and occasionally just a bit irritating.
While not a classic Shakespeare adaptation, it does exactly what it needs to. For nearly one and a half hours, it whisks the audience away to the Caribbean, it entertains but never demands more from them than to hope they leave with a smile on their face. Some purists may complain about the melding of sections of original text with modernised language interjections, the fairy kingdom effects aren’t the most convincing and there is sometimes a feeling that it is more Shakespeare as tourism ad but frankly, even if it is, it’s working.
Dir: Shakirah Bourne
Scr: Shakirah Bourne, Melissa Simmonds, William Shakespeare
Cast: Susannah Harker, Adrian Green, Keshia Pope, Jherad Alleyne, Marina Bye, Sam Gillett, Sonia Williams, Aden Gillett, Lorna Gayle, Simon Alleyne, Patrick Michael Foster
Prd: Melissa Symmonds, Lynette Eastmond
DOP: Robin Whenary
Music: Andre Woodvine
Run time: minutes
A Caribbean Dream is available on DVD and DHD now