Shakespeare with a Caribbean flavour
Imagine, if you will, a Shakespeare play in a Bajan accent. Well, imagine no more! All you have to do is watch the movie A Caribbean Dream and your imagination becomes reality.
The movie, which is a Caribbean adaptation of the popular Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a romantic comedy written and directed by Shakirah Bourne of the Pay Day movies. It was adapted by Melissa Simmonds and Bourne.
Set in contemporary Barbados, A Caribbean Dream follows the exact story line of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with some Caribbean twists and additions.
The beautiful Hermia (Marina Bye) is betrothed to Demetrius (Sam Gillet). However, is madly in love with Lysander (Jherad Alleyne) and Helena (Keisha Pope) is head over heels for , who unfortunately does not return her affections.
Confusion also exists in the fairy realm where King of the Fairies, Oberon (Adrian Green), has his sights set on a young boy belonging to Titania, Queen of the Fairies (Susannah Harker) for his henchman. After Titania refuses to part with the boy, Oberon orders the mischievous fairy Puck (Patrick Michael Foster) to place a spell on her using a special flower.
On the way to carry out the nefarious act, Puck and Oberon happen upon Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena. In an effort to resolve the situation, Oberon tells Puck to cast a spell on Demetrius to make him fall in love with Helena, however, Puck gets his wires crossed and instead casts the spell on Lysander. He instead falls in love with Helena causing even more confusion than before.
In a further “Caribbeanization” of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the craftsmen from the original play are replaced by fishermen who decide to enter a talent contest by putting on a play retelling the story of King Ja Ja and Becka. Their portrayal of the story at the end of the movie was one of the more hilarious parts as it left me in stitches.
In general, the movie was a successful adaptation of the classic play. I thought keeping the Shakespeare lines for the most part, but having the Barbadian actors use their authentic Bajan accents, was a brilliant move, as it would appeal more to Barbadian and Caribbean audiences.
However, although it was a good call, I still think the Shakespearean English may fail to capture the attention of some, as they may be confused by its structure. It would be a good tool, though, to introduce those who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare.
The inclusion of fresh faces to film was also refreshing. Jherad Alleyne, who many would know as the comedian Lord Zenn, did a fantastic job with his portrayal of Lysander. The chemistry between him and Bye was incredible and I hope there are more opportunities for him to shine on the big screen in the future.
Another stand-out performance to me was that of veteran actor Patrick Michael Foster. His sly expression, his voice and his sometimes whimsical movements proved him to be the perfect choice for the character Puck. I couldn’t help but smile when he was on the screen.
The Bajan landscapes, the calypso music and the inclusion of a Foreday Mornin’ jam made the film feel authentically Caribbean. Visually, it was also very stunning, especially the portrayal of the fairy realm.
The costuming and make-up was great, although Oberon’s costume felt a bit lacklustre. Mention must be made of the transformation of the character Bottom into a black belly sheep.
As a lover of Shakespeare, I really enjoyed this film and how it was adapted. As a Barbadian, I am really proud to say this film is a product of my country and give a huge round of applause to all that were involved.