It seems a shame that we don’t see more Caribbean adaptions of Shakespeare, as the Bard’s dialogue certainly seems to run off a West Indian tongue more naturally than a British one in this playful modern take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Writer and director Shakirah Bourne has brought the classic play firmly into the 21st century with A Caribbean Dream, earning the reimagining three nominations at the UK National Film Awards.
The choice of this specific play is well matched to the verdant setting of Barbados and the carnival backdrop is also perfect for bringing to life the idea of the ‘festival time’ that is often used as a device in Shakespeare’s romances and comedies; a period of time separate from reality where constraints and divisions, whether they be of class, gender or family ties, can be loosened or upended, as seen in the cross dressing antics of Twelfth Night or the entangling of lovers in this play.It’s a nice point that all couples in the film are mixed race, but this is not used as a plot point for further reason for Hermia and Lysander, and Helena and Demetrius, to not have their eventual happy endings. While there are other Shakespeare plays where issues of race will undoubtedly add depth, Midsummer is too light-hearted to be one of them.
The result is an easy and amusing watch. While at times the lack of budget is evident in the slightly ridiculous dream sequences and in some cases weak performances, the film acts as confirmation for a new younger audience, and a reminder for an older one, that Shakespeare is as timeless and relatable in any context or setting in any corner of the world.
A Caribbean Dream is out on DVD from 12 February 2018