Paul Gross plays Geoffrey Tennant, a once celebrated actor who had a meltdown during a performance of Hamlet. Now he’s trying to mount The Tempest at the head of a broke company about to be evicted from its premises. Meanwhile, his former mentor, Oliver Welles, has just mounted a dispiriting version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Burbage Theatre, and very shortly thereafter dies. Tennant is brought in as the new artistic director, and his attempts to stage Ha…let are troubled by the ghost of Tennant, a lunatic director, scheming suits and difficult actors.
Quite the who’s who of Canadian television here, with Gross joined by the likes of Mark McKinney, Sean Cullen, and Don McKellar, not to mention an about-to-break-out Rachel MacAdams. Real pathos and drama collide with biting comedy, and the result is very smart, and very enjoyable. Funny how artistic catastrophes can be fodder for very well realized art.
The audio is 2.0, but it’s no worse than the rather pointless 5.1 that accompanies some other TV releases. It’s not necessarily better, either, though. The score sounds great, and there are some nice surround elements. Occasionally, however, some dialogue slips inappropriately to the rear speakers. It also distorts now and then, though everything is generally clear enough and the volume levels are good.
The colours are mostly quite good, though the reds come on a bit too strong. The image is a bit soft, though remains eminently watchable. Grain is more of concern: it never goes away completely and mars some shots quite badly. On the other hand, there is a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen ratio, which always helps.
Not much here. Instead of a featurette, there are production notes. The trailer lasts a full four-and-a-half minutes. There’s a blooper reel and 8 extended/deleted scenes, credits and cast filmographies, and lyrics to two songs: “Cheer Up Hamlet” and “Call the Understudy.”
The package isn’t rich in extras, and its picture and sound aren’t quite first-rate. But the program itself is strong enough to overcome these issues.
Special Features List
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Production Notes
- Cast Filmographies