Saturday, 7 May 2016

Review: CBeebies "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

I can think of no better start to this blog than a review of CBeebies' production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

It's got music, it's got drama, it's got Cook and Line from Swashbuckle... what's not to like?

Taken from the CBeebies website 

What was/is it?

The show used (an abridged version of) Shakespeare's text supplemented with songs and lines written in modern English. Cast members include actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as favourite CBeebies presenters. UK viewers can still watch it on iPlayer for a few weeks here. Don't let the fact that some of it is in Shakespearian language put you off - it is easy (well as an adult anyway) to follow what is happening and Shakespeare himself is on hand to add explanations as the show progresses.

There's also now a treasure trove of links available at the CBeebies website where you can make fairy wings, learn the songs, go backstage etc. A particular favourite here is the Scene Change song, which we have adapted for several supermarket visits (sorry fellow shoppers - if you see a mad lady singing and dancing down the aisles with two small children that could well be me!)

What did we think?

My daughter (currently just over two and a half) watched the preview (basically the opening song) many times before the show was actually broadcast and was very excited about it coming on (although she still calls it "The Hey Nonny No Show" thanks to that song!).

When we watched it for the first time I was impressed that she did actually manage to get all the way through to the end. I tried to help her by explaining what was happening in very simple language as we went along ("the girl in pink loves the man in pink but her mummy wants her to marry the man in blue") and I think she followed the story a little the first time (more on the many subsequent repeats we have watched, although she definitely still doesn't really understand where the Rude Mechanicals fit into it all!). However, there were enough songs, fairies and CBeebies cast member appearances (ok, Justin Fletcher appearances!) interspersed to keep her going through the more difficult bits and she asked to watch it again the next day.

As I said, we have watched it many times since and regularly sing the songs - she has got some of them nearly word perfect now which is a little scary! I still don't think she fully follows the story but she must be taking on board some of the language and she has spent a fair bit of time putting on her own shows for us since so I think it has had a positive impact on her.

Overall, I think it was a lovely production and would definitely recommend watching it with toddlers (or even without them!) if you get the chance to.

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