“Shakespeare told every kind of story – comedy, tragedy, history, melodrama, adventure, love stories and fairy tales – and each of them so well that they have become immortal. In all the world of storytelling he has become the greatest name.”
– Marchette Chute
I was going to include this in the other post about adaptations but I had more to say about this series and the other post was already quite long. I couldn’t have a Shakespeare adaptation talk without including the amazing ShakespearRE-Told series.
ShakespeaRE-Told is a series that aired on BBC One in November 2005. The title is an umbrella term that covers the four TV adaptations that are remakes of Shakespeare plays. Each play is adapted by a different writer and the setting is relocated to the present day. The plays adapted were Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most of the stories stay the same but some stories do combine characters, or change a few details but these are fairly inconsequential.
I was in my first year of uni when I heard about this series. We watched Macbeth in one of my classes and it was possible the greatest thing I had seen, certainly one of my all time favourite Shakespeare adaptations. Before that I had seen a few movies that mixed up the story and a few with location changed but this was something different, it seemed so close to the original story I knew but was a world away at the same time.
There is a star-studded line up of British actors who play iconic characters like Macbeth, Duncan, Hero, Claude, Oberon, and Titania. The retellings are so incredibly clever and you can still see the strong Shakespeare story even in this modern setting.
Beatrice and Benedick are feuding anchors. Hero, weather girl and daughter of station manager Leonard, becomes engaged to Claude, the sports presenter. Jealous visual effects manager Don, plots to break up Hero and Claude, whilst the others attempt to get Beatrice and Benedick together.
Celebrity chef Duncan Docherty owns the restaurant with Joe Macbeth as the sous chef and his wife Ella as the Maître d’. Joe and his fellow chef Billy Banquo are annoyed that Duncan takes the credit for Joe’s work and that Duncan’s son Malcolm has, in their opinion, no real flair for the business. Then they encounter three supernatural bin men who predict that Macbeth will get ownership of the restaurant, as will Billy’s children. Joe and Ella are inspired to kill Duncan, but the bin men subsequently warn that Macbeth should be wary of headwaiter Peter Macduff.
Katherine Minola is a politician who hopes to become the Leader of the Opposition. She’s told that her abrasive personality is bad PR and that it might be good for her image to get married. When penniless nobleman Petruchio shows up, interested at first in Katherine’s money, sparks fly as Katherine seems to have met her match. The relationship and battle of wills bring big surprises for both parties.
Theo and Polly visit Dream Park inclusive leisure facility to celebrate the engagement of their daughter Hermia to James. The engagement party is, much to the irritable Theo’s horror, disrupted by Hermia’s true love Xander. Despite their own disagreements, the fairy rulers of the woods around Dream Park, Titania and Oberon, have a duty to ensure a happy ending, so Oberon gets Puck — portrayed as a sort of magical wide boy — to try to sort things out with “love juice” eyedrops, while Oberon and Theo discuss their marriages.
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