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13 December 2008 @ 11:22 pm
Billie (and others!) in 'Shakespeare Re-told'  
Just watched Shakespeare Re-told: Much Ado About Nothing ... it was great getting some Damian Lewis along with my Billie fix. (Along with four, count 'em FOUR!, Doctor Who guest stars. Honestly, I think my favorite thing about watching BBC productions is the number of actors I recognize from Who, LOL!) Anyhoo, on with my thoughts ...

And by this I mean that Tom Ellis (aka, Tom Milligan, aka Martha's always-missing, and never-mentioned in Journey's End fiance) plays Claude to Billie Piper's Hero. (Yes, yes, I'm so clever, haha.)

This was actually really, really, REALLY good. My only complaint is that I felt that both love stories (Benedick/Beatrice and Hero/Claude) were rushed; I didn't buy/see where either couple actually fell in love enough to get to the point both did at the altar. This isn't to say that Billie and Ellis didn't have chemistry, because they did. And Damian Lewis and Sarah Parrish as Benedick and Beatrice had fine chemistry too. In fact, it was the talent of all four actors, as well as that chemistry, that made the story work. It was just that the actually falling in love part was pretty much glossed over. Ah well, for such an undertaking, that's a small price to pay, I suppose.

If you don't know, this project is a modernization of Shakespeare classics (I haven't watched the other two yet). In this one, the characters of "Much Ado About Nothing" are transported to modern-day Wessex and they all work in a television station. I've only read MAAN and seen the Branagh version once, but I did recognize who all of the characters were supposed to be (and not just by name). The script did a wonderful job of recreating these characters in a modern world. As well, there was plenty of bite and hilarious dialogue as befitting the take on this particular Shakespeare play.

All in all, excellently done, and I'd recommend anyone watch it.

Random thoughts ...

- Billie is just awesome; such a natural actress and light and frothy and beautiful and then capable of bringing on the major dramatic acting chops like nobody's business. And she cries so heartwrenchingly; I don't think I'm capable of watching her cry without tearing up myself. She's so, so good.

- Man, Damian Lewis looked SO much better after he calmed the hair and shaved the pirate facial hair. SO. MUCH. BETTER. And on a non-shallow note, he's really just a sensational actor. I'm so glad that I watch Life if for no other reason than it introduced me to this fine, fine (and I do mean "fine!") actor.

- I don't recall if Hero and Claudio got back together completely in the play, but I think they did. I'm glad that it was left ambiguous here to what degree Hero warmed back up to Claude because as yummy as Tom Ellis is, I was really, really pissed at how he verbally and physically (yes, physically) assaulted Hero, along with the humiliation he forced upon her.

- Speaking of though, yeah, Tom Ellis is really, really yummy. I remembered anew why I loved him so much, so quickly on Doctor Who and mourned never seeing him show up again.

- And one more ... honestly, I hate when it's commented that "so and so can have chemistry with a [fill in your inanimate object of choice]" because I think it generally undermines the other half of whom that actor generally works with. However, I have to say that in Billie Piper's case, I can't help it ... she can have chemistry with a [fill in your inanimate object of choice]. Seriously. Christopher Eccleston. Check. David Tennant. Check. Iddo Goldberg. Check. Callum Blue. Check. Now, Tom Ellis. Check. Damn!

- I mentioned, of course, that Tom Ellis was on Who; the other three were Sarah Parrish (Beatrice) (Racnoss queen in "The Runaway Bride" -- also, opposite Tennant in Blackpoool, which I know I have to watch). Derek Riddell as Don (the Don Juan character) played Sir Robert in Tooth and Claw, and he was wonderfully pathetic and skeevy here. Finally, my favorite supporting player in this was Nina Sosanya (who I recognized by voice first, actually) played Trish in Fear Her. Hah, it was practically a pre-Who reunion. Erm, if a reunion could take place before they worked on the same project.

- My favorite scene in terms of sheer laughter was definitely the one where Benedick is in the studio and "overhears" the conversation about Beatrice's love for him. I was laughing so hard; great, great scene.

Again, overall, really good. Watch it if you haven't.
hiddeneloisehiddeneloise on December 14th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
I remember watching this like 4 years ago (I could be wrong) when PBS ran Shakespeare Re-told as part of their Masterpiece Theater. This one was my favorite of all the Shakespeare plays they did in the series. I didn't know Billie Piper from Adam, but I did know Damian Lewis and always liked him. I should probably rewatch this. :)

Yes, Hero and Claudio get married in the play. Of course I have a very modern "I wouldn't touch that a**hole with a pogo stick after what he pulled" attitude, but those were different times, different sensibilities and different feelings. Hero of the Shakespearean times took him back after just a bit of torture. lol. Hero of the modern retelling had to have it left ambiguous. It would have defied all contemporary logic to just forgive and forget everything on the spot.
Arabian: Billie Piper_02arabian on December 14th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
I'm so, so, sooooooooo glad that when they moderned this up, they didn't have Hero get back with Claude. And I LOVED how Billie played the scene with them sitting in the grass.
Diana: Dare Ya -- Billie Piperbutterfly on December 14th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
Finally, my favorite supporting player in this was Nina Sosanya (who I recognized by voice first, actually) played Trish in Fear Her.

Oh! She is so great. She played opposite David in "Love's Labour's Lost" and they had tremendous chemistry there (and, of course, she's with David in Casanova as well). I'll definitely make sure to check this out!
Arabian: Billie Piper_04arabian on December 14th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Ah, well I did not know that she was in Casanova -- another one I have to watch. I'll look forward to that because she was quite excellent in this. :D
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Arabian: Rose_smilearabian on December 14th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC)
I am looking forward to watching the other two retold plays in this because it was very well done. Sarah Parish and Damian Lewis were wonderful, and I'm looking more forward to Blackpool even more now because I really liked Parish in this.
I was glad they gave Hero some backbone at the end, too--after what Claude did, I just don't think there was any forgiving him.
Yup, and as I said above in response, I loved how Billie played that scene. Without any anguish, just an acceptance that she was never going to give her heart to this man again because he clearly did NOT love her. Billie's awesome!

miss_jen_b on December 14th, 2008 09:32 am (UTC)
Ooooh now I want to go back and watch this again! Also, the adaptation of Taming of the Shrew is equally as awesome :)
eolivet on December 15th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Hee, I remember looking for this on my TiVo for a few weeks ("Why is there no 'Much Ado About Nothing' on BBCA?") Of course, it was listed as "ShakespeaREtold," so...hee ;p )

I had no idea Damien Lewis was in this -- I loved Sarah Parrish from "Blackpool" (and "Recovery"...have I mentioned that one? She and DT are amazing :D ) but I thought Beatrice and Benedick had GREAT chemistry. That scene where they're going through that speech together...whew! ;p

HA, I had no idea Claudio was Tom from DW...that's awesome. :) Billie was perfectly cast as Hero, I think -- she just looks so young and innocent. :)

Yay to "incestuous" BBC casting!! :p
Jude: Belledanceonstardust on December 31st, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I loved this version better then other version. Sorry RSL, Billie Piper beats you. XD

O_O Sarah Parrish was the Racnoss Queen... I did not know that! *watches again*
Arabian: Billie Piper_01arabian on January 1st, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, Billie was just perfect. Casting her as the bright, shining light that everyone's in love with (ala this, Doctor Who, Secret Diary) really is appropo because she's so incandescent.

Yup, Sarah Parrish played the Racnoss Queen, LOL!